Make romance a two way thing?

I’ve not played too many games, I must admit, so my point of view might be coming from ignorance.

But… it often feels like the romances in CoG are very one-sided. It all has to come from you or there is no romance at all. I would like the characters to show some initiative for a change. This is not about consent, and there are a few games that do make the characters come forward asking to be your partner/lover. Unfortunately, it’s usually a single occurrence and after that nobody tries any more.

There were a couple of games where I changed my mind about a person throughout the game and the romance choice was an early option so that particular avenue was closed off for me forever. I would also like high relationship characters to come and spend time with my MC without me having to do all the work. Send my MC letters/messages, gifts, ask them out on a date.

I’m hoping to see more creative ways to deal with this in Heart’s Choice.

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that is very tricky due to many people as like me will never play games where NPCs are harassing the pc. I consider myself being harassed when Characters I have no selected started to do unwanted advances towards me.

I don’t want to be forced to romance characters because they courted you. I don’t want to be courted at all, I want to be the only courting due is my game, my choice.

That makes writing romance something really complex, where going too much in a direction can alienate half of your fan base

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A two-way kind of romance is a dynamic romance. With the way we write things, it’s best explored on determined single RO stories, I think. Add another RO and the focus will be split between the dynamic of relationship and picking your partner.

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That means that is not a choice of anything. Is basically: “Or you are with me due to pure fact that I am the only romance, or you go home with your hand, looser.”

I feel like a happy medium to this might be having ROs display behavior and actions that are just generally intimate throughout the story (when the MC has decent or high relationship ofc; characters that you are antagonizing or dismissive of shouldn’t behave like this*)–actions that can be open to interpretation as either platonic or romantic affection. If the MC chooses options that are (clearly) reciprocal in a romantic way, that could open the narrative/code up to having said RO actively engage the player. I guess ‘slow burn’ only applies to carefully developed romances that take place over the length of two or more books/installments? So I think I mean like… a medium burn that takes cues from the players’ selected actions.

*well… unless you’re writing one of those toxic, dark romance routes which i can’t pretend i’m totally averse to reading lol (as long as they’re clearly portrayed as toxic, that is. not here for unironic romanticization of abusive romantic behavior!)

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Though this sounds good in theory, it is difficult to do well in practice. A positive relationship does not equal a romantic one.

I am going to use “A Player’s Heart” as an example. As I played through the game I felt very much drawn to Celeine (the rival character) and expressed romantic interest toward her. I interacted with her as much as possible and she ended up declaring her affection towards me. The three other characters I barely interacted with,l. However, because I didn’t dislike them the relationship stat increased which the game interpreted as romantic attraction. I had every character declare their love for me, despite no romantic signals from me as the player.

Though this did give the characters more depth, I found this incredibly off-putting. It is all well and good to have characters approach the player, but it shouldn’t happen separately from the actual choices the player would make.

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yeah, I think having separate friendship and attraction stats might help with that kind of thing, right?

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Perhaps. That would be the easiest way to achieve this. A hidden stat that boosts romantic affection, if that affection is above a certain number you get a scene where the character asks the player out.

In a perfect world the game would need to track the player’s romantic decisions towards a character, their relationship, the player’s relationship with other characters, overall compatibility (two characters with wildly different morals would be less likely to engage in a romantic relationship), and remain consistent with the character’s personality (an extremely shy character would be unlikely to declare love). This would be quite an effort to code and actually write I imagine.

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:sweat_smile:
that’s actually pretty close to what i’m trying to do with my first game’s romance system. with 8 ROs… cause i’m a fool lol. I’m even doing platonic affection, romantic affection, and trust as three separate stats, the latter two hidden. annnnd allowing for things like cheating and rumors to cause conflicts…

to me, this feels really reminiscent of what some of the Japanese visual novels I grew up reading do, so I immediately strived to include… yep, all of those factors if I was gonna make any attempt at writing meaningful romance in a format like this. oh god, i think i’m freaking myself out about this…

Most of the other games I plan/hope to write in the future likely won’t have romances this complex in them, though. It’s def gonna be a lot to code, here’s hoping I don’t screw myself too badly by attempting to on my first try :laughing:

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Good luck.

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Perhaps doing what you are planning to do does make the work complicated. 8 ROs?? :cold_sweat: And multiple type of affection too. TWC has only 4 ROs but based from Sera’s update, it becoming more complex as she move forward to the series. I would love to see your work but I always advice authors to make number of ROs to a manageable number. But best of luck to your work, perhaps you will one of those who could pull it off.

In terms of the topic on hand: I agree with most people here, having ROs approached you even though you don’t like them tend to off putting for some. I have mixed feelings about it but l prefer being the one who initiate the romance. However if the game’s ROs approached the MC regardless, I would prefer having a say how my MC would handle it.

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One game that sort of broke a mold with this topic I felt was the Lost Hero series. There were conditions where the person you were attempting to romance could deny you, which made it feel real. But of course after you succeed the romances were all flat, but I think that giving the RO a “choice” is a good element to add.

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Hmmm…I wouldn’t say that having RO’s approach MCs per se should qualify as harassment by itself, if it’s handled in a way that’s not overly aggressive (and by aggressive I mean doggedly, persistently, not taking no for an answer, not as in 'physically threatening) way? It’s completely normal to have people approach you for friendship or relationships, as long as you have the choice to say no. Hell, it’s not even strange to have people approach you again after you’ve been cold to them once. (Though, if the player has been given the option to be firm about it, more than twice will be pushing your luck as a writer.)

Thinking of Dev in Heart of the House where he confessed to you pretty early and you can either like it or not like it, and without the plot going where it went, if you okay’d things with him it would’ve made all the sense for him to initiate some interactions with the MC afterwards.

I don’t have a particular preference in the matter, mind you. As long as the MC’s feelings and responses to the character are not railroaded (Black Magic, I’m looking at you) and the RO in question doesn’t act like that Doggedly Persistent Guy Who Wears Down The Women By Doggedly Pestering Them Trope, then…it doesn’t really matter who does the courting. I understand that some people prefer to hold the reins on what happens all the time, and for their MCs to initiate everything…but from what I see reading WIP threads, the more proactive characters in those tend to have their fanbase, too. There’s something for everyone and different strokes for different folks.

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I am not talking about harassment. Let’s not go to extremes, shall we… I’m talking about a situation (and I said it in my original post) where having built enough relationship the person behaves like they care and want to pursue the romance themselves.

This happy medium is the very thing I meant in my OP.

I really don’t see what’s off-putting with characters falling in love with you. This is a real life situation. Friend-zoning someone or even dismissing their friendship all together is rather natural, is it not?

Not really. Attach a certain variable to certain romance-oriented responses throughout the game and execute an event when if the value is high enough the character approaches the MC in order to start a romantic relationship. This has been done in CoG games. I can provide examples.

I find it quite disturbing that this topic turned into a thread about harassment. This is not what I meant. Dear users, read my OP again if you have any doubts.

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I’m going with what @snowgoose said. It’s really easier said then done.

Because often the choices are for the players. And the romance are mere spectator, that have scripted actions and dialogues.

And those ‘Novels’ where the romance is initiated by the npc, it’s often written more from the writer own desire then the player desire.

meaning, it often come off…as sexual harassement in a nutshell . Too many, hit on you, get in your space, even some groping going . And yes, these are games that have ‘‘Romance’’ . Someone should’ve looked the term before they wrote those lol .

So in a way, it’s easier to let the player lead and safer too. Nobody like to have someone they don’t care about shoved into them .

And if anyone decide to try their hands at making the romance initiate the stuff, remember :
1- No groping. Seriously…
2- Remember to let the player break it off anytime they want .
3- Personal space…hello…back off!

I play this MMO where the romance (the male ones) initiate the ‘Romance’ and if you make the mistake to answer said flirt…you are freaking doomed and stuck with them foreveh! Shudder thats just baaad… :sweat_smile:

Me? I rather lead. I’m a lesbian, too many Novel shove onto me the dude bro to romance. No thanks…

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I feel what your asking for is already portayed well in players. All of the RO’s repeatedly demonstrate there interest in the character thru open flirtatious or romanctic gestures and your character can experience intimacy with all of them before your forced to make a definetive choice of companion. At the same time you are given control over how you respond to these advances and RO will back off if you refuse, avoiding any feeling of being harrassed.

The first part of my comment literally says exactly that. To balance all the other variables I listed in my second paragraph would be more than that.

Secondly, as I stated, I barely interacted with the characters at all. To suddenly be told that they had loved me for years (as one character explicitly said) is very strange since I (as a player) barely knew them. It would be like if a waiter at a restaurant I visited once said they loved me. It would be creepy and I would definitely not reciprocate.

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I agree with you. Having not built enough relationship with them shouldn’t have triggered the romance.

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What people are trying to say, and the reason it turns into a discussion about harrassment is that some people have real life experience that makes them very, VERY, wary on being approached by NPCs with romantic interest. That makes it a fraught water to thread.

Early romance option functions, not always as just an early flirt, but also as an invinceble bottom which when pressed says: It’s okay for this NPC to flirt/approach the MC. It’s for the benefit of the readers.

Do, I think that authors have to do this. No not necessarily but understand why it is there. The authors don’t know the readers limits, Maras reactions is extreme, but that does not invalidate it .

The other problem is the one that @Jay_Tarrent describes and that is the friendship options.

Sometimes, you don’t want to accidentially lead a character on. Sometimes you just want to be friend. And maybe it is fine the first time somebody misunderstand, but turning people down is not fun and then you realize that you just don’t know how to be ‘just’ friend with the character. I am sure that I am not the only one who groaned over Kaiden and Liara in Mass Effect 1 and swear that it was impossible to talk to either them without them getting the wrong idea and as someone who does not like leading someone on in most stories it got frustrating really quickly. Jazz Age is a cog example where you can have spend very little time with either of the romantic prospect and you still get a confession which is honestly a bit off putting even if I understand why it is there.

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I do think that could be fun.

Obviously, you don’t want to do it for every character, or you’d end up with a hilarious (and frankly, undesirable) situation where everyone you’ve befriended wanted to boink you. I hate that design, tbh. But one or two? Maybe one of the people you have a high relationship with asks you “do you think there could be something more?”, takes you to dinner, etc? And you could just reject it and they’d get the hint if you aren’t interested and they don’t get miffed afterwards? I personally wouldn’t mind this, but YMMV.

Couple of problems that often come with this design : since ‘high relationship’ leads to romance here, this becomes the cut-off point for further interactions with the character. You either romance them and continue interacting with them, or it’s gone. I can think of some vague ways around this but it’d take quite a bit of work, essentially twice the writing. The other problem is that it’s not fair to the other characters, if you make it so that ‘high relationship’ doesn’t generate some sort of scene with them. Again, this is not insurmountable, but more work. Extra flags. Extra scenes and branches for other characters. Optional paths where you can either start the romance with the proactive cahracter early, or be friends first and then confirm if you want to start it later. (The friendship-to-lovers path for Morrigan in DA:O is this, but most people don’t see it because everyone who’s interested in her just chose to boink her at first flirt lol.)

i.e. moar codiiiiiiiiing and I’m actually getting a bit of a headache thinking of the design lol

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