Polls about COG, HG, and IF games

Future is in the vast majority. Sci-fi fans are truly oppressed :disappointed:

In all seriousness, addressing a few other points: I’ve noticed that romance and romantic options are a feature in basically every COG and WIP, but there are very few that focus on romance (the most successful of which being Wayhaven). It’s a trend I probably won’t reverse because I can barely write a paragraph a week thanks to brain-stuff, but it’s something I’ve noticed.

So, here’s another poll:

How do you prefer romance as a focus in a story?

Examples:

  • Most romance have the romance as the primary focus – other themes might take the spotlight on occasion, but for the most part, they remain secondary.
  • Wayhaven has romance and the supernatural mystery hijinks take center stage, often one going in hand with the other. Both are primary focuses.
  • In most COGs or WIPs, you have the option of romancing another character. While this opens up subplots and gives more content, it is possible to not have any relationship and still not miss out on the core focus of the story. In tjis case, the romance is secondary.
  • I prefer it to be the primary focus of the story
  • I want it to be the primary focus alongside another topic or theme
  • I prefer it to be a secondary focus
  • I prefer it to not be in if it isn’t one of the primary focuses
  • I prefer it not being in at all
  • Other

0 voters

I’m the third option, personally.

2 Likes

Could just be how I interpret the question but I’m seeing options two and three as the same thing more or less.

I think of it like… hm…

Thers’s a game called Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem. The primary focuses are relationships and politics – your character is attempting to be matched up with another, but also, your character is an actor in a political game going on within the setting. Both themes come to the forefront, often simultaneously, and both are very important to how the story is told.

Another good example is probably Wayhaven – the supernatural hijinks and the romantic options are the two core drivers of the entire game.

Secondary focus would be like the romance options in a Bioware game. They’re there, you can choose to make them a big focus of your playtjrough, but you can go the entire game without even touching on them and not necessarily miss out on anything big.

I went back and looked at the poll, and noticed I had voted for that.
I can’t recall voting in it, but I don’t agree with that answer now, and wouldn’t have back then either, so I must have misunderstood it.
Considering the current confusion about it, I would guess a lot of people did.

Unless you can edit polls, after they’ve been posted, and the wording was changed…?

5 Likes

Right, I was thinking something along those lines. I’m not sure, I guess secondary made it sound less important in my head. I’d like it to be present but not the main theme of the story, but not resigned to the back benches either. So that probably fits with what I picked :sweat_smile:

Sounds about right. I’ll edit the summary to clarify.

1 Like

Unless I’m reading a story that is explicitly about romance/focuses on romance (i.e. Wayhaven), I can go either way between secondary focus or not at all depending on the RO’s subplot within the confines of the main plot and if it’s interesting.

4 Likes

I voted “other” because pretty much every option (romance being the main focus, a side-plot or not being present at all) can work for me, if done well. Also, I can think of stories where the romance was supposed to be the main plot and I still found it lacklustre, and others where the game had a different main focus but the romance was still top-notch. So I’d say it’s more about the execution, for me.

8 Likes

I prefer it as secondary or optional. Have it there, but shouldn’t be the main point.

One thing I’ve been mulling over, should you be able to get your allies/ROs/companions killed? Personally I think it should be an option, but what do you guys think?

  • Allow main characters (even the most loved ones) to be killed
  • Don’t kill my characters!

0 voters

5 Likes

Absolutely allow it. But make sure for there to be ample warning and foreshadowing. Don’t lock their deaths behind failing 1 skill check or something. Also, plot mandated deaths of beloved characters suck. If you’re gonna kill someone in IF, make sure the players have a say in what happens, at least in my opinion.

22 Likes

Personally I feel its really cool for very different endings for each character, but writing from experience is really hard… Each scene has so many probabilities when companions interact, that its uuuughh. Fun, but ugggh.

4 Likes

I think this needs a lot more nuance. :thinking:

Death can be fine, sometimes, but make it meaningful, not just for the sake of killing someone.
It also very much depends on the type of story, the tone, the presented stakes, foreshadowing, build-up, and lots of other factors.

17 Likes

I’d say it depends on execution, while I like to see some semblance of player choice in the matter. Death is often outside our control, so while having a beloved character yanked away from us in a story through a mandated death can be a massive punch in the gut if it’s done well it makes for powerful storytelling I think. The characters have to be well developed or it falls flat.

@The_Black_Reaper
I agree but with the foreshadowing it must be subtle before being dropped, or it takes the emotional weight out of the choice. I think it works best if there is the option to save a character but it isn’t broadcasted for everyone to hear. The reader should not have time to prepare for it.

10 Likes

Echoing what others have said.

Ultimately it’s the author’s story. The readers are just along for the ride, so I respect the author’s decision to do whatever they want in the story since I can exercise my will to just stop playing if I stop enjoying it.

But like Bacon said, lots of sign posting or warning should be ringing as loud as can be so that the readers can make a decision that could possibly save the character.

If the character dying is a result of the MC’s actions? That’s where agency should be most important. If it has to be a plot mandated death then it probably shouldn’t involve the MC? I don’t know how to phrase it and I’m not 100% on this stance myself.

But if the MC is involved the player will have the expectation that they can save the character since the author is putting them in that scene and presumably giving them choices. So if you give the reader the false hope that they can save the character while in reality they cannot, they will feel cheated - most likely - and a variety of other things… which is why sign posting is important.

11 Likes

I think character death can be meaningful and powerful and interesting, but I agree it has to be handled carefully. I’ve definitely read stories that totally lost me because I felt they were killing characters off for shock value or to make the story “realistic” (HP7 springs to mind), and that’s a sure way to lose my interest real fast.

I also think that the fact that the player’s choices can impact that makes the potential character death all the more impactful and meaningful, as long as I feel that I am honestly at fault. If a character dies because I prioritized someone/something else, then that can resonate, as long as the setup works. Stat checks are an iffier thing - I generally won’t like it if a character dies (or, frankly, if my own character dies) because I didn’t understand how to game the game right, but that could also just be me being a sore loser. :stuck_out_tongue:

For an example, I remember the first time I played Heavy Rain, and I accidentally failed some button inputs that got a PC killed. That kind of made me feel bad, because I felt like I had failed them, that my ineptitude had caused them to die, even if it wasn’t a “choice” per se. But later, there was a scene where two characters are trapped in a car underwater and I didn’t understand what button prompts would do what, so I accidentally let a character die. That was just frustrating and had no impact on me at all, because I felt like it was the game’s fault the person died because it didn’t make it clear what I could do to save them. Even though it was a “choice”, it was unsatisfying because I didn’t know what button presses corresponded to what choice. For a CoG analogy, it would be like “Do you go left or right? You chose left, your RO sponaneously combusts.”

…All right, with all that said, I think unavoidable deaths are also fine, as long as it is clear that the character’s death is unavoidable. I also think it’s important not to guilt trip the player for decisions that are not in their control (in general, not just about character death). Of course, the player is allowed to grieve or feel guilt over another character’s death, but don’t try to actively guilt trip the player themselves for failing to save someone they literally cannot. I do agree that you need to handle mandatory deaths with care, since it’s kind of implied by the C in CoG that you have control over important things like this, but I do think mandatory deaths can still be handled well and be impactful.

tl;dr Character death in a story can be good, but it’s all in the delivery.

11 Likes

This is something I agree with. Generally because when the game tries to make me feel guilty for doing or not doing an action it usually gets the opposite reaction from me.

7 Likes

In Magium a “poor” character build results in the death of a major character. Same thing in the Lost Heir series and they are both fantastic works

1 Like

I understand the problem people have with being unnecessarily guilt-tripped by the author when it comes to fatality inducing decisions but, how can players actually feel the weight of being the leader if they don’t deal with the fact that the choices they make(particularly in the action,horror, thriller and fantasy genres) can have deadly outcomes for the people working for them or around them. Yeah it’s a crappy feeling but, choices like that come with the position of power that the MC usually find themselves in and too me it seems like if the player doesn’t have to deal with those choices then we the players aren’t really experiencing both the positive and negative aspects of leadership. Just the aspects that make the player feel reasonably comfortable or care-free. Definitely not saying no to warning about perma-death or make every character killable in a series, just suggesting that the weight of leadership be showed more and that the player actually deal with death as we know it from time to time so the stakes can be raised.

4 Likes

I tend to just kill characters as needed for how I want the story branch to unfold.

2 Likes