Poll: Canonical/Pre-set Significant Other

I did like the Mayor in HU but like @HomingPidgeon said I kinda wish I could have gotten to at least meet them before I decided my feelings on them. I understand why in HU why it made us pick first, so that the interactions between the MC and the Mayor made sense to the type of relationship they had (if you’re actually in love then they’re all flirty and sweet), but I like to actually get to know a character before I decide my feelings on them.

Though I do think it would be fun to play a game where you’re MC has a SO from the very start. There’s some fun stories you can tell with that! I think it would be a hard sell for some but if the player is allowed to pick the SO’s gender and maybe some other small things (how they met, for example) I think it would be a lot of fun.


Pre-set ROs can be done so well!

I mean, I look at it this way-- a developer/author will always want to put their best foot forward when it comes to their game/story, right? Why write so much detail into a cast of RO potentials that likely no one but the most hardcore completionists will see all of? I know I’m guilty of this but once I find one RO I like in a game I glomp onto them like gum on a shoe and pretty much never deviate from that one choice of mine in subsequent playthroughs. I pick favorites. That makes me feel bad. (Also never thought I’d say ‘glomp’ ever again, but there you go.)

A pre-set and unavoidable RO might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to give it to 'em, if the right effort’s put in, they can be very damn detailed and well written since a player has to interact with them in regards to the story.

Of course, I’m not saying every game should have this, but I’m not blind to what strengths these kind of characters could have when done right. That’s a huge caveat to all I’ve said here.


Okay, question out of personal interest:
I have it in my game that you can set your SO in pretty much full detail (except looks).
They won’t however appear in the story (makes sense in context) unless you played in a way that makes the city bring them in and you can potentially romance them (again).

What do people think about that? (Feel free to answer over in the game’s thread. Sorry)


I’m brainstorming a game at the moment, and I was thinking about this because I like exploring relationships more than the build up to them, and the way that I’ve done it is that there’s one character that you can choose whether your dating him or just friends/colleagues. I don’t know how difficult this will be to implement seeing as I’m just at the plotting stage, but I think it could be interesting. And, even if you do choose to be a couple from the start you can still end up with someone else and there’d be a few points where you can break up with him, or he’ll break up with you if you’ve made certain choices.

It depends on a game. If I’m going into a game where say arranged marriages are a given, or if you are required to marry like a social contract, then I’m fine with it…as long as I could nurture a relationship outside of it.

When it is forced upon you (Hero Unmasked, or the crush in Psy High), then that is when I tend to dig in my heels, and go “nope.”


I agree that these kinds of polls might lead to less writers pushing boundaries, but I also think that it’s valuable to know what you’re getting into :frowning: It would suck to write an established SO and somehow have absolutely no idea that it would be a somewhat divisive topic.


I’d be a bit of a hypocrite if I said I was entirely against them, aha.

But I definitely think that if you’re setting up something like that it’s best if the player can customize the relationship and define it themselves instead of having it defined for them. (I.e. do you love this person and are still in this relationship because of love? Did you used to love them and now you’ve fallen out of love with them and haven’t gotten out the relationship yet? Do you not love them but are doing this for X practical/personal reason instead? Etc. etc.) Not only does it make the relationship more interesting, in my opinion, but it also doesn’t wrench full control out of the player’s hands which in IF is usually a pretty big no-no.

But that’s all for a romantic significant other. And if the story takes place in the kind of world @Lys brings up where you’re in an arranged marriage and that’s a part of the world that your MC has to work around then I don’t think you really have to define it as much. Instead I would rather there be put more focus/customization on the MC’s individual feelings rather than the dynamic of the relationship as a whole. (How do you feel about this custom? About the person you’ve been assigned to in particular? Etc.) It could then make for an interesting point of drama or suspense considering the world is therein designed to take control away from the player, which putting them in a relationship from the get-go does on its own.


I, for the most part, feel similar; having a pre-set significant other when playing a character or sexuality that doesn’t correlate to yours or even you yourself seems to be breaking immersion in a certain, specific way; almost ‘you can play as whomever you want to play as! As long as we get to decide the fundamentals’. Obviously, it often doesn’t translate to that extent, but I can empathise with feeling as if the reins that are supposed to be firmly in my control are grasped out of my hand, like playing a video game with your sibling and the sibling grabbing the controller and saying “I’ll do this part” for whatever reason.

That being said, the argument about realism and self-insertion, to me, stops almost as a prerequisite to any Choice game that I end up playing, not because I wouldn’t find my literal self in adventures with ghosts and werewolves and previous time periods, etc., but you already have to mould your character to fit the story to a certain extent; I enjoyed Tally Ho as a game, and was very pleased with my self-insert playthrough, but the idea of going into service for real is abhorrent for a multitude of reasons.

Rather than being an attack, I’m quite curious how the idea of having a pre-set significant other is so different an argument as to the argument one could pose about never being a talk show host, to use the already-given example. I can imagine many people here would dislike being a talk show host, for no reason if not the fact that it goes against who they are. Why is having a pre-set occupation, family, general direction in life, and even personality to an extent less important in the debate of a world that isn’t catered to your character? I find the whole argument quite interesting.


I personally dislike the idea of setting every aspect of the SO character (I dislike setting anything for any character other than the PC, to be fair) because in my opinion it starts feeling like a romantic build-a-bear workshop. Because I dont really know your story, it’s possible that it’s written in such a way that it makes sense, but in this tiny description it sounds more like making a second PC than elaborating on who our PC fell for.


Well… play my wip (curious cuisine) xD it makes sense in context (so some bits will change with the upcoming update.)

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I guess it depends on the context, as other have said the advantage is that it can make the RO more three dimensional since they get more dialogue with the character and remove the need for a possibly shafted on romance plot if the writer prefers to avoid it, so as long as once gets to chose the gender of the RO and maybe the player’s feelings towards them, it’s fine. I was of course fortunate to like both Arthur for Guen and Clarisa in Hero Unmasked, so I wouldn’t be certain if the shoe was on the other foot?


My hope in mentioning my perspective here is that it might give writers who make pre-set SO’s a moment of thought in considering whether, and if so how, they want to make the game inclusive for ace/aro characters or players. I appreciate how @MeltingPenguins has done this in the Curious Cuisine WiP, for instance. And Heart of the House doesn’t have a preset SO, but it does have a preset business partner who happens to be in love with you. I liked how that was handled a lot, and I really appreciate the author’s time and thought and effort in making it inclusive and fun to a very, very broad range of players and characters.

I actually have a quite old WiP where you can either start the game as married or single (but there are no other romance options), and you can pick the personality of your spouse to some degree—but the option to be single and live alone is there too, because I could make the story work either way.

Anyhow, it was just meant as something to ponder—I wasn’t at all intending to say ‘no one should ever make a game with a set RO,’ and I apologise if it came across that way. (I’ve actually stayed off quite a lot of the other ‘would you play a…’ polls because I specifically didn’t feel my answer would be very helpful or enlightening, one way or the other.)

Short answer? For me, it’s not.

I actually play quite a few romance games, because I like the plot or writing or characters or whatnot—I just know going into them that the game is romance-focussed, and I accept that I will most likely not be able to place an ace/aro character.

Knowing that going into it is quite different, though, particularly if that’s the theme of the game. If romance or relationships aren’t a pronounced, advertised theme of the game, I mostly find myself asking, why? And thinking of all the ways a similar effect could be achieved without making it exclusive to ace/aro characters or players.

Also, if this poll had said ‘Would you play a game where you are a serial killer and all your murders are described in vivid graphicness,’ or ‘Would you play a game where you are the general of an army and you go about conquering things,’ or ‘Would you play a game where you raise magical ponies and the pink level is 20,000%,’ I also would have answered ‘likely not.’ So it’s not really any different to ‘I probably wouldn’t play X game,’ but in this case I thought the ‘here’s why’ might be useful.

Sort of unrelated, but I used to never bring up being ace/aro spectrum and wanting paths for that—or being nonbinary, and same—because I thought that both categories were such minorities that no one would really care much. I’ve very happily discovered I’m quite wrong on both counts, and several authors have been amazing in writing nonbinary and ace/aro content. So I’ve also gotten more vocal in hopes of helping or encouraging more authors who want to write roles open to those categories, I suppose.


All relatable examples (barring the last one that I would likely still play out of sheer morbid curiosity at how the pink level could reach such a level without warping spacetime), but it’s not your personal example alone; it’s the mundanity of objecting to a pre-set significant other that strikes me when a lot of other things that most consider equal to if not more important than a significant other is considered fair game in some choice games. In those examples, it’s easy to see why one may not want to play them, considering the issues with game content. With something much smaller, it becomes more and more interesting why a person would object.

It simply makes me wonder about the cut-off point, so to speak, when an existing relationship regardless of gender choice isn’t accepted when other aspects one may consider equally important are. If there even is one. Why one could very easily put themselves into the shoes of a character that would have to be radically different to who they are themselves to even get to the situation that they’re in, but according to past precedent, is a particular selling point.

Or maybe I’m abstracting to the point of ignoring the issue itself. A point I thought was interesting, is all. This forum is notably different in its approach to many others I’ve been a part of.

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I suppose part of it, for me, is that no one’s ever tried to get me to raise magical ponies or conquer nations. This is not, however, true of people trying to get me to have/find a SO. So it’s playing a chord I don’t particularly like as it is, especially if I’m not forewarned.

I think perhaps it might also be the difference between the general theme of a game and one particular locked-in aspect? Especially an aspect that may or may not be necessary (in a reader’s mind) or comfortable in the process of telling that game’s story.

If I’m playing a game that’s, say, necromancy-themed, and yet I have to have a SO, I would wonder: would it be maybe possible to broaden it to allow for non-SO characters and players? On the other hand, if I’m playing a game called ‘Choice of the Spouse’ or something like this, that’d be a bit different. (Actually this is a good point—this never bothered me at all in Choice of Romance because, well, the title and premise.)


You are one of the most polite, thoughtful people on the forums. Of course I didn’t think you were saying that.

My concern was more a general reflection on all the different topics folks have discussed lately. I’d like to see some people take risks and give us new approaches but lots of forum-goers have certain preferences, and it’s hard (impossible?) to navigate them all successfully.


Everyone’s got their likes and dislikes, it’s totally impossible to cater to everyone as a single author.

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But I sorta feel like we do, at least as far as approach. Second person/first person. Reader ‘as’ MC. Very few prexisting SOs. Mostly all human protagonists. Most stats screens look similar. There’s definitely a template.

Yes, genres differ widely, but the approach hasn’t varied much.


I would consider choice of significant other to be a pretty important one, all things considered… :grimacing: It’s certainly not something one would want thrust upon them. While that’s the point in some cases (when the marriage is thrust upon the character just as much as it is on the player), in others, it ends up not letting the player (or at least me) fully immerse themselves in the character. I will admit that I’m less concerned with railroading on other issues, but I do feel that romance is a rather different case.

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I’m starting to think that I should have included the option “only if it’s a major theme in the game, and advertised as such” :confused: because that’s a fair difference

Mind you that I’m ace and nonbinary as well. I don’t usually play those options in games, but implementing those aspects (if possible) are on my mind, though I realize I rarely make it explicit that that would be an option when I ask questions like this :frowning:


All very good points; I suppose it’s more of a subjective matter than an objective one, then, if necessity is such a factor. What one may consider necessary may not be what others deem necessary, and that’s especially true with significant others and the veritable minefield accompanied with it. I wonder how somebody that has been neither forced to raise magical ponies nor forced to find a significant other would react, if they would at all; the latter is much closer to humanity, in a sense. I wonder how far somebody has to wade into the murky fog between realism and obvious fantasy before things stop having a personal attachment and become outlandish enough to let go of the majority of your biases, sometimes. I wonder if there even is a specific cut-off point. I doubt it, to be honest.

Why not? Why would somebody care more about having a significant other forced upon them in a story with no personal impact than having to adopt a completely different personality and track of life? Why is a personality change that changes more about you than a forced significant other less jarring than said forced significant other? Is it precisely because most games allow you to change to the degree that it doesn’t hit close to home anymore? I wonder as to the nature of self-inserts, then; I would imagine that merely being part of the game’s universe itself would be enough to solve that problem.

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