@poison_mara If you don’t want to write romances, don’t write romances. That’s no reason to stop writing altogether. I avoid writing things I hate (think the 1800s romance where touching a hand was scandalous and romances that take 3 million freaking words before they finally kiss… no thank you!). If you want to write only one kind of romance, then write that and call it a day. If people don’t like it, they can go elsewhere.
But the one thing I don’t think you realize is that there is a large group around here that does not like romance in their games. They complain about it and avoid games with romance because that’s just how much they detest it.
Like @Ellery said, you can focus on the MC developing friendships as an alternative. Honestly, I think the thing that’s drawing everyone to ‘romance’ games is the deeper human interaction between characters. I played several games where, despite having a ‘party’ (so to speak), by the time I finished the game, I didn’t really have a clue who they were. The interactions were shallow and they weren’t completely fleshed out, in my opinion. The romance-centered games allow for more interaction and give MCs a chance to get to know the NPCs–and that is a breath of fresh air, romances aside.
The bottom line is that you have to write what you love. If you do otherwise, it will show in your writing. You also have to remember that you won’t appeal to everyone and that is okay. Even if you only affect a small group of people, that is a good thing. If we can entertain or bring a couple hours of joy to anyone while doing something we love, then we should feel good about that.
To each their own. I despise what most people refer to as slow-burn (i.e., dragged out for no reason that makes sense for two or three or however many consenting adults). Reading that makes me want to smash things. It can be done well, but I have rarely seen that. Instead, I see a bunch of angsty high school bullshit from grown adults and it is nauseating. I tend to like the romances that progress naturally and it’s a them against outside forces instead of them against each other (or themselves). Unless there is some deep-seeded emotional trauma for one of them to explain it (see I, the Forgotten One) or unless all involved parties are extremely introverted, then there’s no need for a bunch of childish crap. /end rant
@Ellery I’d vote for idea #2. It isn’t often I’ve seen things start out with the potential ROs already being friends with the MC. That cuts through a lot of the ‘get to know you’ crap that takes up most of the game because you can establish who each RO is as the MC knows them. I think the only thing you’d have to be careful with is deciding ahead of time how the MC feels about them. But if you show who they are, what they’re about, and what sort of personality they each have, and give the MC a chance to describe what they think of that, I think it’d be gold!