Disliked Elements, Mechanics, and Tropes

That’s pretty much what he did, minus the overcoat, until they had nothing left.

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That’s exactly why I think a more accurate description in the publisher’s blurb is a good idea.

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Well, the description contains more than one… shall we be nice and call them “misleading facts”?

There is, of course, the “detective” thing. Nope. Start of a romance? Nope, unless you call picking your path the beginning of a “romance”. For two of them, there’s no romance in the romance.

Define and refine relationships? Hahaha. No. You can pick your romance and how you flirt, but you don’t define shit until the author reaches the point in the series where you’re allowed to have something more than longing, meaningless flirting, or fucking. And while you can choose how your MC feels about their mother, you get pounded on the head how pitiful and sad that makes her, with no chance to actually point out why you feel the way you do except for a weird, overly childish scene in b3 where the MC can be all pouty over some crap birthday party when they were a kid. And that happens even if your MC decides the birthday thing is in the past and not worth discussing. Sorry, you’re gonna whine about it!

So yeah, the detective thing isn’t the only misnomer in that description.

That’s… interesting. Unless the author is just jerking people around, it sounds like Milo may be moving toward actual feelings and some semblance of a commitment. Sounds like b2 will just be skirting the edges of that, though.

I’m tempted to buy it because everyone is gushing about it, but I think I will wait until I get some feedback from people on how the… thing (can’t call this a romance if it’s just fucking with Milo fucking a bunch of others, too)… between Milo and the MC (and Mal) goes in b1. If it’s not too in your face, I’ll get it. I just draw the line at having my MC turned into a cuck, watching Milo nailing others or even having it rubbed in her face and having to watch it, unless I can play a free spirit who does the same. I’ve had enough of doormat MCs.

Edit: Yeah, I just spent the last little while combing through the author’s tumblr posts regarding Milo (again, thank everything holy for tumblthree for allowing me to download the whole blog instead of being forced to scroll or search using their shitty engine and being bombarded with messages to log in–NO!).

After getting about midway through the blog, I realized this game isn’t for me. The author constantly gushes over “angst” (learned to hate that word because of Wayhaven, thank you very much) and Milo apparently pretended to care about and seduce the MC under false pretenses, which is just shitty. Throw in the fact that the poly is necessary to romance him and the author has said it’s “slow burn” (which I also now cringe at thanks to Wayhaven) and it’ll be a few books before progress is made… yeah, I’m out with this one. It would just infuriate me, especially with her take on the MC, who will apparently be forced to get over Milo’s betrayal and whatever other crappy things she has planned for him to do.

Thanks for letting me know about the answer to that question, though.

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Somewhat echoing some comments earlier in this topic and maybe expanding on them a bit, I kind of wish that reaching some initial point of commitment with the love interest wasn’t the endpoint for the overwhelming majority of stories containing romance. As a corollary to this, I wish sequels that acknowledge a pre-existing relationship would do something with it besides find a reason to strain that relationship before ending with the couple reconciling, which is something that even franchises I otherwise love like Mass Effect and Uncharted were largely guilty of.

I’d at least occasionally like to see something where the main character and their significant other actually support each other through the challenges of the plot without their commitment to each other coming into question. If there has to be some change in the dynamic somehow, maybe just have them move in/get married if they haven’t already, raise a family, or really anything other than having to win each other over all over again.

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DUDE.

I have no idea if I’ve said this before, but if I have, it’s probably so many posts in the past that I’ve genuinely forgotten, and it seems like it’s gotten worse in the time since, so to hell with it, I’ll say it again.

When did being a spineless, useless wimp become the hot new trend for MCs?

You’ve got your detective in Wayhaven who can’t detect their own self respect as they continuously get shat on by their deadbeat mother and her team of vampiric tools; you’ve got your Keeper in that series who’s only barely keeping up with other magic users even after three books; you’ve got your Soul Stone Wars MC who can trounce a pack of bounty hunters, out-riddle a dragon, suss out a goblin cave and successfully prevent the team from getting jumped, potentially use magic, and potentially get in the pants of the psycho tyrant king and maybe talk him down from being a psycho tyrant (depending on how the series goes), but these and other displays of cunning, diplomacy and self-reliance are seen as wild and outlandish to the rest of your “friends,” apparently, all of whom constantly do things better and cooler than you without even trying; you’ve got your MC from Price of Emeralds who gets walked on by their coworkers, their boss, their ex, and their kidnappers…

A lot of the folks commenting here are also frequent flyers in my thread, so they know this already, but for anybody who doesn’t, I’ve been going through and playing Heart’s Choice games recently and giving my extensive two cents on the ROs in those games, and you know what I’ve noticed?

The MCs in HC games can actually get shit done.

Never Date Werewolves: You’re a single mom raising six werewolf kids, and you absolutely have the power to do that on your own if you so choose.

Belle-de-Nuit: You’re the top dog security swordswoman for a local house of pleasure who regularly gets into scraps with pissed off or unruly customers who can’t seem to understand what “hands off the merchandise” means, and it takes a fellow fencer from Spain for you to find a proper match for your abilities.

If It Please the Court: You literally get picked up off the streets of Paris and become a spy in the halls of Versailles, and in short order you amass enough skill, and - far more importantly - top-secret intel to potentially tip the scales for the entirety of France, depending on what you choose to do with it.

Heart of Battle: You’re an arena pit fighter, and two of your three origin stories have you be an ex-soldier in your own right. You can, and likely will, end up killing people in said arena, and you can, and potentially might, break out and secure your own freedom in spite of everybody saying it’s impossible, and in the meantime, you end up becoming an arena celebrity.

Forbidden Magic: You’re an agent working to keep magic and the supernatural secret, and much unlike Wayhaven, you can actually do your job. Do it well, even!

Their Majesties’ Pleasure: You’re a former soldier recently promoted to the guard of the royal keep, and in short order, you get appointed as the personal bodyguard of the two royal children, and if you put the time into your skills properly, heaven help any poor bastard who makes the mistake of crossing you.

Like, DAMN. The romances in HC games are kinda perplexingly hit-or-miss, but your MC does nothing but hit, and never stops hitting. It’s so refreshing! Instead of the ROs having to swoop in and do all the cool shit for you, you can get up and do it yourself, and if any of them try and talk down to you, they end up ultimately looking the clowns for it later.

Can we get more HC MCs in other stories? That’d be great.

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I think it’s a culmination of a few things. One of them is that some author’s get super excited to write the characters they create doing the things they imagine them doing. By that I obviously mean, most writer’s on here probably have an idea for a story, then form the characters for said story (maybe even after deciding what the role of the PC is going to be), then think of all the cool possibilities for those characters. They are the main cast, so they have to be cool, at least in some people’s heads.

And I get that! Trust me, there have been times where I’ve looked at the cast in my game and thought, “Wow, I can’t wait for this super cool moment for them.” But in my opinion, that’s why I use the word PC instead of MC; Player Character instead of Main Character; the entire main cast is a main character, including the PC, and keeping that thought process in my head helps make it so that I remember to include cool stuff for them as well. Not only that, it makes it so I remember that the PC is just another member of the team, so interactions with them shouldn’t be all that different than interactions between the NPC’s. They’re all just people.

But, there’s another thing that probably gets in the way as well. That being choices and branching. The more cool stuff you let the PC do, the more choices you need to implement regarding said abilities in the future, as well as the ramifications of doing said cool thing in that moment, which turn into variations of a scene. Again, I’ll use my own work as an example of why it’s so daunting to allow cool moments but still let the player feel like they have a choice on how those cool moments play out.

In the latest update for my game, there are 18k words (not too many, I know). In those 18k words, there are a total of three choices; I counted. The reason for that is, the PC gets to pick what they used to be studying in college before they joined the Bureau, allllllll the way back in the first chapter. This, ultimately, is the first ‘cool choice’ for the PC as it defines part of their background. If you choose a background with medical experience, you get to absolutely flex that and be the main person to come up with theories in that scene based on the autopsy, but you might also be squeamish around gore, so I have to write that in while still letting the PC shine. But then I have to write for if the PC doesn’t have those backgrounds, and if they’re squeamish and don’t have those backgrounds.

A better example might be the investigation in the previous update. The PC has the opportunity to be a master sleuth and find every single clue in the house they’re in, which leads to quite a disturbing discovery. BUT, they still sleuth it out and have the ability to solve that part of the case pretty much singlehandedly. So, now I have to write their reactions to those revelations. I also have to write variations to the ending where they don’t find some of the clues but find others, and variations where they find none of the clues. Then I have to figure out the branches for how all of those branches are going to affect the story down the line and plan for those. But if I let the PC find all the clues, I have to add in something for the NPC’s with them to do, because the last thing I want is people complaining that they’re incompetent, so I have to have them able to help the PC in some way through all of this, so now I need to add variables to check if those conversations happened so that it can possibly get brought up somewhere down the line.

Literally all of this is avoided if I have the NPC’s do it in a set plotline. All of it. So in short, it’s a lot easier to have the PC just kind of be along for the ride and let the only thing they affect be dialogue.

Now, I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do, but alas, it is the less stressful and easier thing to do.

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I understand. Trouble is that just doesn’t make for much of a GAME. I get how hard it is to implement this stuff but that’s just part of making games like this.

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Oh 100%. And lemme tell you, once it’s done, it’s such a dopamine hit to see the finished product of that scene, so I absolutely think the correct thing to do is to put the work in and suffer through it, to an extent. Admittedly, I go a bit crazy sometimes and bite off more than I can chew, but slimming down some of what you write (or are planning to write) is also part of the process.

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I like this, I like treating the MC as just part of the cast.

I feel like that’s how it oughta be done, long before you release the demo for public input, have the MC/PC be just part of the cast and flesh out the skeleton of the story with them making certain choices in tandem with the other characters, and then worry about players choices once you have some idea of how the MC/PC gets from one scene to the next.

Going back to SSW, a point in its favor is that after you get the romance going in book one, from what I can tell, it stays going, and the drama comes from the fact that you’re both kinda sorta in a fight for your lives against Manerkol’s army, so you’re understandably a bit worried about each other not keeling over dead, rather than arbitrarily having to reaffirm the romance like it’s square one all over again.

Unless you’re in a threesome with Manerkol, in which case the main drama is, “How are we gonna make this work with the guy who’s trying to kill us?”

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I’m pretty confident we’ve talked about it before, or at least you’ve liked some of my comments about it. It bears repeating, though, because I’ll never not be fucking sick of it and how many otherwise enjoyable-sounding stories are ruined to the point of being unplayable by this weird annoying/infuriating trend :slight_smile:

Less powerful cool inhuman ROs more powerful cool inhuman MCs. I’d much rather be the badass vampire who does the cool shit and takes a liking to a cute “defenseless” human than the inverse like Wayhaven does. If nothing else it’s so much less uncommon that it’s enjoyable simply for being something different. I’m playing through stuff on a different IF/VN service (an app, not Twine stuff), and they are really awful about it and other things (really puts into perspective how good ChoiceScript and Twine shit really is), but I know it’s just because they cater to a large cishet female audience who’s into basic bitch otome-adjacent shit with a very stereotypically feminine protag and very stereotypically masculine ROs regardless of gender. Probably why I’m very heated about this at the moment, since overall I’ve not encountered it much lately here/on itch.

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What, who, me? Would I do that?

Surreptitiously taps heart button

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Pfft. Why would anyone write something as enjoyable as the MC and RO being together and living together/getting married when they can milk longing looks and hot/cold emotional abuse from the RO to the MC, instead, while never having to be bothered with the pair/trio in an actual fucking adult relationship where they communicate and rely on each other instead of acting like tween morons who have no clue how to behave around someone they love and, worse, can’t comprehend that love isn’t just having someone constantly mindfucking you?

Not sure, but I wish it would go away.

The only one of those games you listed that I played was Their Majesties’ Pleasure and I loved it. If you haven’t tried it, try Blood Moon–that’s another MC who is actually capable. And your MC can beat the hell out of everyone and be Alpha. The ROs are badass in their own right, but so is the MC.

This sounds really cool, especially with it actually having some bearing on the story. I hate it when things like that are wasted and don’t come into play. Even worse, when personality and skill choices have no effect whatsoever on MC behavior (i.e., combat oriented characters acting like spineless wimps and being afraid of their own shadow just to remind everyone how weak they are and how strong the rest of the cast is).

If the MC having screwy blood that was mutated by Murphy meant the MC was getting stronger or getting some powers of their own (that set them apart from the vamps), it would’ve been cool. And it would have provided a reasonable explanation as to why it is, to quote, “important to the story for the MC to remain human until the end of the series”. Instead, we get a weak ass MC who will remain human and “less” than the vampires with no opportunity to become a vamp until the series is done (if we even get the choice then). Why? So the MC is a weak ass piece of shit that can be hurt and worry the ROs. :roll_eyes:

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Honestly, what I’ve seen of the vampires in Wayhaven so far, I’m not sure I’d even want to become one anyhow, so my big fear is that the choice will be ripped away in the other direction and pro-human players will be forced into being vampires against their choosing.

I mean, I’ve basically dropped Wayhaven at this point, so it’s not a super big concern for me anymore, but it’ll still piss me off if it happens.

Yeah, the romances were blink-and-you’ll-miss-them, but the story itself was actually pretty fun at points. I just wish that the interactions with the fae and the Cabaret didn’t boil down to a handful of choice encounters and then you spend the rest of the story wishing you could hang out with them.

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I’m too stubborn to quit yet. I honestly want to see just how long she intends to milk this hot/cold, emotionally abuse the MC crap with M and A, instead of allowing a more natural progression. With her statement that M would’ve known they were in love if the MC had said it, I’m curious to see how long she’ll force the MC to wait to say it. Or if she changes her mind and lets the MC say it only to have M run away like a chickenshit so she can drag it out through b5 before having M “realize” their feelings.

I haven’t tried the fae route yet because I went with the poly, which I liked. I need to try the fae route, though, and see where it goes. The romance was better than the romance in the other HC games I’ve played, so I actually appreciated it. It was weaker than a lot of HG romances, but still pretty good.

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I hung out with the Cabaret quite a lot when I did the Rogue/Julian romance on my first playthrough, I wonder if you made a choice that put you in another direction? I didn’t get much fae time but I was focusing on other stuff.

I’ve been thinking about the power-level/agency thing and I wonder if it relates to games being expected to be in a long series. Obviously not every series is the same but it feels in some cases that the PC is intended to be at a low power/agency level at the start, and will develop their power and ability to affect the world over the course of several games. But… since games take a year plus to make, that’s a long time for players to be going “I’d really like my PC to have more of a spine”, especially if the “weaker” stage before becoming more kickass spreads across more than one game.

See also when difficulties arise with relationship development pacing, maybe. I don’t envy authors who are working in series structures like that!

A friend worked for one of those apps (not one of the big ones) and made a game in which the female MC was in powerful position and had a spiky rivalry with a male peer RO… The company ended up making it be changed to the guy being her superior who was constantly rude to her :melting_face: It’s exhausting. And is a big part of why I like working with CoG - my editors are keen for me to do whatever I want and I don’t have that kind of thing thrown at me.

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Browsing through tumblr lately I found an upcoming IF game “Queenstown Detective” which has a route which will be focused on the domestic part of the relationship, between the Sherlock-like detective and their fiancee.

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From what I can see it’s like some copy of Wayhaven but with a bit more interesting ROs.

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Oh, I almost certainly did, thinking about it now. I was pro-Rumia all the way and barely gave the Cabaret or the Fae more than an occasional stink eye (and yet turned around and wound up brokering peace with the fae and getting Julian appointed governor of the Cabaret’s headquarters town in the end).

Seems like whichever faction you choose to align with puts you on an entirely different story path.

Bruh. Meddling from the bosses will never not drain my soul to hear about.

Hell, I don’t even write for a paycheck, I work at a greenhouse, but my boss has this awful habit of micromanaging the crap out of me and only stopping when he suddenly remembers that I get less work done when I get micromanaged.

That’s actually how I planted the seed of “leave me the hell alone” in my boss’ head: I one day took him aside and told him, “So, you know how you wanted me to hang those vincas on drip line A? You know how that didn’t get done before my shift ended, and you were super mad about it? That’s because I kept getting redirected to a thousand other projects that were nowhere near as important.”

He picked up the hint real quick. He’s a good guy, just a frustrating employer.

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It really does. Right down to the absentee parent, dead father, and paternal captain. Vance (the Foxtrot leader) sounds like Adam/Ava. Mischa sounds like Nate/Nate. The other two, I can’t quite place. Neither is listed as eternally horny, so it appears there’s no M in the mix.

Still, looks interesting, especially the fact that the MC will probably be competent instead of a moron who can’t stop stuttering at the LIs. I’ve been wanting a Wayhaven knockoff that was more attuned toward adults rather than tweens, and this may be it. If so, I won’t have to write it myself, lol.

That’s what my MC did as well!

My boss is completely ignorant of this fact. And the fact that sitting in meetings for three hours a day means that’s three hours you can’t actually work.

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That would be pretty funny - Wayhaven knockoff that actually turned out better than Wayhaven :joy:

I assume none of these ROs are vampires…? That would have convinced me even more to read this IF. I don’t like supernatural RO x human MC trope.

You know, QD was originally born because I had just read TWC and, despite loving the premise, I wanted to have a very competent MC for once. I also loved the idea of MC being already two steps ahead of the secrets the ROs needed to keep form them.

From there, the story evolved and it took also a lot from Sherlock Holmes in terms of main character, and then it changed some more. I will admit I changed it sometimes just because I was convinced it wasn’t liked enough

It… really sounds good :thinking: Maybe I’ll start following it.

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