To add onto this, I particularly like the ability to set all RO genders at once because I tend to replay games a lot of times and having to set each RO’s gender manually every time can get tedious, especially once you have more and more ROs.
I like to have the options for both randomize the RO’s genders and select them individually. It’s always a bit strange for me to have to choose it, so it’s nice to have an option to randomize it before the game starts; though I also prefer to keep the same genders I ended up in my first playthrough in my other runs
I got + 1:
The author sets default genders and somewhere, maybe even in Stat page, there’s an option to change it.
Personally, really don’t like setting RO’s gender as a choice during the story and choosing them before the game is not ideal either but at least it doesn’t break the flow. Randomized genders are guaranteed way to make me set it manually by save editor or browser tomfoolery and the same goes for sexuality set combos because I might not like that particular fit (for example: A is always a woman and N is always male in Wayhaven for me, even if I have to mess with variables by myself).
I voted random but my actual answer is “I really like how Royal Affairs does it”
as in, I can straight up randomise right at the start or I can pick individually at the start (and still randomise some if I I like)
Cause if I’m gonna replay a game a few times, largely to try out different romantic routes, that makes it much more straightforward for me. but also random is fun because it sort of helps me pull naturally a bit more towards certain characters.
It can send the unfortunate message that the ROs have a canon or ‘correct’ gender, which can feel bad if you prefer another for them.
One thing that isn’t in the poll, is that when set individually, I really prefer having the option to set them as I meet them, so I can have at least some idea of who they are, before choosing their gender. (for the first playthrough, or when replaying after a long time)
Edit: Actually, it would be nice if the game had a short presentation of the RO when setting their gender in the beginning, instead of just a name, as I often see.
off topic but Happy Birthday Lady Luck! Here to many more years! Cheers!
The only method I greatly dislike is setting genders based on sexuality, for all the reasons brought up in this thread.
For me personally
I generally don’t have a problem with gender-variable NPCs and verisimilitude, but every important NPC (unromanceable NPCs are rarely important) changing genders to be compatible with the PC’s sexuality does strain my credulity. With player-selected or randomized genders, I can attribute any lingering weirdness over “I did that” to myself the player or RNG, but with sexuality-determined genders I have to contend with the PC’s sexuality literally warping the reality of the game world.
Playing a monosexual PC results in a skewed/mono-gender cast, which is almost never what I want as a player. If I play a gay male PC for example, I don’t want all the female and non-binary cast members to disappear. I’m mildly annoyed by games that have the temerity to assume I do.
From a design perspective, sexuality-determined genders send a strong message that the most important thing about these characters is their ability to be fucked by the PC. If that’s the message the creator wants to send, then great! Seriously. As much as I might personally dislike it, sexuality-determined genders are the right design choice, please do that.
But if it’s not, I wish more creators would consider what messages they’re sending, especially if they have “equally viable platonic paths” and/or purportedly subscribe to a “romanceable NPCs as characters first, ROs second” design philosophy. Consider how it feels to the player when a straight male PC can’t be friends with anyone other than women in a game with friendship paths because gender is determined by sexuality.
I mean, ultimately I’m fine with romantic availability taking priority over all else. Every creator needs to make tradeoffs, and I want creators to make the game they want to play, even if it’s not the game I want to play. But I’m going to press X to doubt on anyone who says they “care just as much about friendship” and players who don’t want to romance anyone, then makes those friendship options’ genders determined by the PC’s sexuality.
There are some exceptions, of course. If the game is about speed dating, it makes sense for everyone’s gender to match the PC’s sexuality. If gender-set-by-sexuality characters make up a small portion of the cast, it’s not as big a deal. Especially if there are unromanceable set-gender characters you can have platonic relationships with.
To the list of methods I’d add:
- Setting genders based on something other than PC sexuality. (E.g., Alex, the childhood best friend is always the same gender as the PC; the player chooses the gender of Max, which sets Lindsey’s gender to a different one.)
- Quota randomization. Technically covered under randomization, but if there are a lot of gender-variable characters, it can be nice to have some guardrails around getting at least one male, female, and non-binary character per playthrough.
It’s no secret there’s a convention IF WIP threads follow - description, feature bullet point list, RO description + extra, links some of these might be missing thread to thread but they usually follow this style.
How important is it for you to know about RO’s before you read a WIP?
- Very Important - I’m reluctant to read a WIP without any information about potential love interests
- Important - I like to know to plan ahead
- Not Important - I’ll discover who’s who in-game
- I don’t read WIPs for romance
- I avoid WIPs which advertise their characters as RO’s
Kinda in the middle for me. On the one hand, if romance exists, it is nice to know if there’d be one for any MC I might make. That’s not always the case, and while that by itself wouldn’t be a deal breaker, it does improve chances of me giving a story a shot.
So the ‘other hand’ as it were is that I tend to consider the story itself more important. A good plot focus, that doesn’t just “work around” romances, but can treat every moment about as organically as possible, while still keeping it even for everyone within reason. If someone is a super-pantser, though, that list being there at all is less important by virtue of being subject to change, which is perfectly reasonable, imo.
For me a game’s premise/plot and a sense of what the PC will be doing are the things that catch my attention first. I like meeting characters in game best so I tend not to make decisions about who I want to romance/befriend based on an initial description. But if all the major characters are described in an introductory post in ways that I don’t find appealing for whatever reasons, that does affect whether I’ll feel as excited about it.