Do you NEED romance options, personally?

Maybe this is too broad a sort of topic, but I’m currently working on a story that would put the player in the shoes of a 2nd Lieutenant in the Vietnam War, in the 1970s. Without giving too much away before I put the beta out there (its still a WIP), the player is behind enemy lines, and needs to lead troops to safety through the mission and into getting extracted and home safe.

Now it seems no matter how convoluted, insane, or crazy the plot of a story might be - folks love to include romance options. They sometimes come from the most unexpected places, straight out of left field. And sometimes they feel natural or appropriate and sometimes they don’t (subjectively, obviously).

I can’t for the life of me think of any reasonable angles for a romance plot outside of maybe referencing a loved one back home (or the lack there of).

And I guess I want a general consensus from individuals on whether or not the promise of romance helps convince you to try a ChoiceScript game. If the concept of a story is already enough to draw you in, does a romance option (or options) sweeten the deal for you? Push you away? Or do you just not care either way?

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Hmm I play RPGs, tactical, point and click, horror and other kinds of games, and these rarely have romance - at least as in choices of romance and so on. In games like that, I consider it a huge bonus, but if there isn’t, well, that’s okay.

But when I play visual novels and text based games, I’d say I play FOR romance. I mean, I turn to these games when I want to play something romance centered - or at least with romance as a huge part of it, and choices of love interests and so on.

Obviously, since I play these games literally in order to satisfy my need for romance games, it won’t make much sense for me to play if it doesn’t have romance.
That doesn’t mean I’d be opposed to playing a romanceless text game buuut… Well, it has to REALLY REALLY suit my tastes with the plot, characters and all.

Now obviously that’s just my point of view as a player who plays these games for that. I’m sure other people won’t mind. Not to mention, it is YOUR story, so if you don’t want to write romance, don’t do so.

EDIT: oh, I feel the need to point out though - the plot of your game is not really my kind of thing to begin with, and I totally understand how romance doesn’t fit it. I was merely giving my overall opinion about that.

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I don’t think you need to have romances, but a lot of people will be turned away from your game without a romance. The COG audience tends to seek romance in games, even if it’s not required. In my game, a lot of people were asking for additional romances. I have a cast of 6 in my story, and two of the characters were already romance-able, so adding a third character to romance was difficult for me. At the end of the day though, it’s better to write the story you want to write. If that means a story without romance, then that’s what you should write.

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I guess the simplest answer is I personally like romance options in general, but I don’t think they’re needed - and if they feel contrived, that’s a pretty big negative. I think it’s better to have no ROs in a story where including them would be contrived or jarring than to try and force them in.

I do agree that I sort of associate romance options with CoG, so you might want to specifically advocate that it isn’t something that would be in your story.

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If you write for money and social validation. Romance is only most audience cares, the story doesn’t even have to be special original if romance options follow the typical otome tropes.

However, if you write for following your vision and your concept, don’t write romances. I am writing stuff that is not commercial either. But you have to accept that nobody will beta testing your game or even care about it.

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While many want/need romance in their choice games, I personally don’t.

It sounds to me like the game you are writing would actively suffer if you “forced” it to include romance.

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No.
Romance is overrated. Power of friendship for lyfe.

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it’s been said already but yeah, a lot of csg players have come to expect romance in these games and some may be turned away from projects if they don’t fill that particular niche.
i have a hard time getting into choicescript games without romances because a lot of the time that means the story is less character driven and more plot driven. both are objectively good forms of storytelling but plot driven games as a whole don’t tend to do it for me :slight_smile:

at the end of the day that project and decision is yours to make. make it the way you want it. if you don’t want or can’t find a way to include romance that makes sense don’t beat yourself up about it :slight_smile:

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Personally I dislike it when it’s obvious romance has been shoehorned into a game when the author’s heart wasn’t in it and the setting wasn’t really suitable for it. I also agree with others though, ROs are expected by many readers.

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Well, @trevers17 made such a good point that I don’t think I could add something more to it.

But regarding that, people under hard or chronical stress tend to do things they otherwise wouldn’t, I guess that in a war you should have a lot of it (if you don’t have a problem with your hormones), so maybe you could use that to push a romance out of your characters.

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It depends on the execution of the romances, for me, and whether the game is billed as a romance game. If the game is billed as a romance game, the romances and character development is what I am there for. The Wayhaven Chronicles is an excellent romance game that also has an engaging plot.

In a non-romance game, the romance, IMHO, should be optional, adding to the story but not hijacking it. Tin Star, for example, does not have romance as its focal point. However, the romances are exceptionally well-written and integrated into the story without making it into a dating sim. The game’s main story is enjoyable with or without romance. Choice of the Vampire also has great, but optional, romance.

If the mere addition of romance looks as though it will hijack the (non-romance-focused) game, it should probably be avoided. The Parenting Simulator avoided romance because it would warp the game into something that would not allow the original objective of the game to be fulfilled (raise a child to adulthood by making decisions that affect them). Part of why I loved the game was because it was a pure raising sim, and I still believe that any romance in that game would have been like a denim patch on a silk shirt.

Of course, if you feel uncomfortable writing romance or believe that it will not naturally fit into your game, don’t write it. No romance at all is better than uncomfortable, shoehorned romance.

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Marine Raiders was a fun war CYoA with no romance, but it was kinda short.

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If it makes sense for the the story and you think you as the author are interested enough in writing romances instead of just throwing it there just to please the audiences then I’d vote for romances being included, otherwise I think your story might be better off without it.

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While I tend to view interactive fiction as primarily a romance genre (the prevalence of otome games and well, the romance side of COG to show this), I don’t think every game needs it—especially not yours. If a game is interesting enough and it’s still possible to form friendships and the like with characters, I don’t think it’ll necessarily go against you to not have them. Especially since your game is already somewhat niche it sounds like and non-romanced focused, the people who will enjoy it likely wont be coming for the romance in any case.

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From your synopsis, it seems to me that you have a very clear and defined vision of what your story/game is and because you have this vision, I believe it best to really focus on it and worry about anything outside of the vision later, after you complete your execution of your vision.

At best, I would consider a relationship already established (girl/guy/person waiting at home for you to get back) … because as the officer leading your men to safety, your entire being at this point should be survival and getting home.

At worse, you can include relationship possibilities within the unit you are leading, but there are so many potential issues doing this, I would wait until the core story was completed, before even attempting to include it.

The reason why many people wax enthusiastic about romance, is because many of the best games in recent years are romance based games.

That doesn’t mean they irrevocably limit everything after to be the same.

This community can actually benefit from more diverse presentations.

Originality, quality of writing, implementation of mechanics and execution of all these things into a whole is what I judge games by.

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As you’ve probably gathered from this topic, many people on this forum will answer “yes.”

In all seriousness, Remember, the COG forums aren’t your only potential readers, other people do read interactive novels, you can try appealing to them instead. Secondly, it seems the reason some people on the COG forums say they need RO’s is because they associate not having them, with stories that aren’t character driven. So, if your story’s still character driven, despite a lack of romance, it may still be a success on the forum here. That said, I’m not an expert.

Good luck with your project!

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This is a very good point and I’ve noticed similar preferences across the forum.

Now, this isn’t to say that one can’t write a character-driven game without romance, but simply that this type of storytelling lends itself better to romances because (by its very nature) it allows for more naturalistic character interactions, thus enhancing romances.

Interestingly, as I was double checking myself on Google, I found out that most romance novels tend to be plot-driven. Go figure!

But to address this story specifically:

Gay romances seem like they would fit really well here, and would in fact be able to provide some really high stakes for the character in order to not be outted both as a soldier and also as a gay man (I’m assuming you would go for realism in this case).
Similarly, you could also potentially introduce Vietnamese romances who are sympathetic to your mission. Though I would tread carefully because depictions of these types of relationships, especially when the romantic interest is of a different race or ethnicity as the (usually white male) soldier, tend to be fraught with problematic elements. This occurs either in the portrayal of the romantic interest with stereotypes, or simply with the potential power-imbalances within a relationship between a civilian of an occupied/invaded territory and a soldier of the occupying/invading force.

All that being said, I completely agree with @Eiwynn (you’re as insightful as always, my dear!). Given how strong your vision is, don’t compromise it by trying to force in elements that don’t come naturally to the story you’re telling. If there is room for romances in this game, these opportunities will present themselves to you as you’re writing. It’s also just as likely that you won’t see these opportunities at all either, and that’s fine! You’re writing a survival game after all, not a romance game.

Lastly, if you’re worried about the audience complaining of a lack of romance, I think you’ll find that this is a self-selecting kind of situation where people for whom romance is important are likely just to avoid the game, and everyone who’s left is understanding or even enthusiastic about the focus of the game away from romance. The net being cast is arguably not as wide as the one you might get with a romance, but at least the feedback won’t be concerned with anything but the story itself. :slight_smile:

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If you don’t want to add romance into a game you are thinking of creating, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It might limit your audience, but there’s plenty of amazing stories on cog that have the option to forgo in game romance entirely. But I wouldn’t sacrifice the relationships of the characters in order to do that. Plot is fun but if your readers don’t care about the characters in the story, then it loses its potency- especially when your focusing on something as horrifically traumatizing and emotionally complex as war.

If you feel the relationships you want to focus on in your story would benefit more from being platonic then I think the story would only suffer from trying to force in romance where you don’t feel it fits just because you feel like it’s required of you.

The thing I would suggest in terms of romance is by the end of the first or second draft of your story, ask yourself if this relationship between two characters still feels like a brotherly/sisterly/familial bond. Characters will become less malleable the more they develop so it’s important to take into account how they end up interacting with the characters and the story story. If two character have chemistry, they have chemistry, yknow? And trying to side step it because the original Intent was for there to be no romance, well it suffers from the same problems that shoe horning in a romance “just because” has. They’re two sides of the same coin, finding balance is the tricky part.

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First of all, here are some polls to help you;


Personally, I agree with @rosemary_and_sage and @rose-court.

There’s no rule written in stone that says “All CoG/HG games must include romances”, so you’re free to pursue whatever you like.

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Yeah romance isn’t what draws me to most games cause I feel like they’re supposed to be there.

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