Disliked Elements, Mechanics, and Tropes

Sort of. About halfway into the story, you can send her home (up until this point she acts like and is still seen as practically family to the MC imo, regardless of player choices) and from there she does become bit less present but by nature of her role and “visions” in the story, she’s always around and the “closeness” still feels assumed to me - just much less so than if you were actively engaging with it.

I think if I liked her character, in general, all of this would be moot. But because I don’t and the BFF-ness is placed so strongly into the narrative… all of it will annoy me by default haha.

For the rest of the characters though, yeah I agree! Especially Nick and Button’s relationship has a ton of variation.

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There’s always gonna be matters of taste involved in which characters with predetermined relationships work for which players. In general, it’s kind of unavoidable in most cases. Unless it’s the type of story where the protagonist has no memories or just doesn’t know anyone where the story takes place, you’re going to have to have known SOMEONE beforehand and had some sort of relationship with them. Friends, family, etc.

Some games can have multiple options for how you relate to certain people (like how Infinity has you determine whether or not you’re close with your family), other stories have a certain relationship that are too central to the plot and characters. Like, not every best friend character could work just as well as an enemy. Few could in fact.

A lot of people seem to think that the issue is predefined relationships (or specific types at least) in general, and while that’s sometimes true for some people, sometimes they’re focusing on the wrong issue. A lot of the times the characters themselves just don’t gel with these players so they resent being put together with them, and that’s all subjective. Sometimes the characters themselves are poorly written too, which means that the issue isn’t the pre-defined relationship but rather the character themselves not being good.

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In this case, I think it’s not that it’s predetermined in general or the dislike of the character (or even the writing, as there’s people that like Sally I’m just not one of them unfortunately) but - a present day strong predetermined relationship you can’t control that pushes the disliked character into personal/intimate areas and scenes of the MC’s life. That’s likely what grated on me the most here.

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Just came across this thread, seems like a good place to vent about a design choice I dislike after I just had it pop up again in an IF I was reading.
I am absolutely sick of games that have gender variable ROs, but instead of just letting you pick them they give you a choice between being into men, women or both, then put the ROs into pre assigned sets based on that (or sometimes randomized in the case of picking both, but that’s much rarer).
Like as a bisexual person it really annoys me cause I feel like it comes from some sort of fundamental misunderstanding of bisexuality. Like obviously I can’t speak for all bisexuals, but I think it’s fair to say that there many of us, myself included, who do not have exactly the same taste in women as we do in men, meaning that we’re not necessarily be into an RO no matter what gender they are; there are gonna be some ROs I prefer as a guy or as a girl.
The way I see it, whenever a game has gender variable ROs, they effectively have twice as many ROs as advertised (give or take a few for games where not all ROs are gender variable and/or that have gender variable ROs with nonbinary options). And by making the options be fixed they’re effectively locking the player out of half of them, while severally limiting their control in which half get locked out.
Now in most cases the easy solution is to just choose to only be into one gender so your preferred RO is the preferred gender. And in most cases this is fine, your characters preference is never mentioned again, and you can just go on pretending their bi. But its not perfect. For one, some games will reference that choice later on, which is not fun if your a bi person who wants to play a bi character (at least in my experience), and the other is that it can make it harder to actually play out being bisexual, by limiting your options when it comes to multigender flirting/romancing e.g. if I’m into RO A as male, and RO B as female, but choosing the bi option makes A female or B male, and I’m not really into the other 2 ROs, tough luck I guess, no multigender flirting for me.
To be clear, I’m not trying to accuse these authors of anything, I don’t think this is done out of any sort of malicious intent or anything, I just wish they would stop doing it.

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Related to this point, there’s also the odd implication that, for example, as a gay man, you’d prefer every single person in your close circle to be male, and for every meaningful (platonic) relationship you have to be with men. And it’s just a fundamental misunderstanding of how human beings work. I know it’s partly being done as a wish-fulfillment thing, but it feels very artificial and, dare I say, insulting–like the expectation is that these NPCs exist purely so I can smooch them instead of contributing to the story in their own right.

Personally, I’d rather they did away with using sexuality as a toggle for gender altogether. Some might argue it’s less “forward” than just outright picking each gender individually, but, look: we all 100% know why the game is suddenly musing about the MC’s sexuality. Better gently rip the bandaid off.

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Otome style. I never liked it. I want to have men, women (and sometimes also nonbinary) in the main cast, even if I prefer romance only male ROs.

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While I do agree, choosing as and when you meet each character will require that you know who you want to romance as and when you meet them, which a lot of people won’t. Pure first impressions aren’t a good way to choose an RO, but by the time you actually get to know them, it’s too late to choose. Consequently, even though I would definitely prefer a more gender-balanced group in principal, in practice I would usually just switch almost everyone to male, so that I don’t accidentally end up with the RO I would prefer set to the wrong gender.

EDIT: Granted, now that I think about it, more than a few games do expect you to know who you want to romance right from the start, but that’s not good either. :sweat_smile:

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Hard agree – mostly because I just don’t see the point of this? From a coding perspective, it is incredibly easy to have nicely selectable options for setting this, or at least no more difficult than making hard-coded sets. If you’re implementing gender variations, I think the “select at beginning/select as you meet/randomize” suite of options is best.

I also find it very unbalanced in an uncomfortable way. Like, if this were a book/tv show/movie, I would spot the questionable gender dynamics of an all-x team or a harem/reverse-harem team a mile away, but in IF it’s fine because they’re all romantically available? I guess? It’s fine if that’s what you want, but it’s really not my cup of tea and I don’t want to compromise mine/my character’s gender or sexuality to avoid it - just give me the immersion breaking option. (I bring up gender, because some games peg those hard-coded RO genders to gender…for some reason.)

Addition: also, frankly, I think this approach re: sexuality misses out on more nuanced gender dynamics between characters and platonic relationships that could be really interesting to explore. Like how can the relationship between a male gay MC and a female “RO” be different if you two are close, best friends, super important to each other, but not romantically attracted but everyone expects you to be? Or one-sided attraction? Or weighing a romantic relationship vs. a platonic one, because in IF let’s be honest there’s an unchallenged relationship hierarchy. Obviously these won’t fit most stories and aren’t everyone’s choice, but I think stories with these aspects are worth telling and developing, and we can’t get there by pegging RO gender and MC sexuality as packages.

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Just make every ro’s gender random each playthrough. And then cite realism or something.