RO/LI Options

Clearly one of these - I really REALLY dislike it when I have to customize the ROs. Like, I need to be interested in a character to want to romance them. If they are a blank slate, why bother.
Or, if customization is a thing, at the very least I want a “default” option, like for the royal’s appeareance in the “Odessa Dating Games”. Selecting the name of the RO makes me really unconfortable though. I mean, I’m unconfortable when I don’t have a list of names for the MC to choose from (or, better, a single suggested name / one per gender). So yeah, for a RO… nope.

Answering to that too since my opinion was the same as that commenter’s.
I prefer complete descriptions, because if the description ISN’T complete, and then later the author makes or commissions artwork, and the character looks totally different from what I pictured, I sometimes start hating the character. So it’s safer when I have more details to build a mind image. And besides, I like character descriptions.
With that being said, some games like “Relics of the Lost Age” and sequel don’t describe the characters in a very detailed way, and it’s still my favorite game so yeah, again, exceptions exist.

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Personally I can’t stand it when RO appearances and/or names are customisable. It makes them feel less grounded or real to me. I prefer the first two.

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If you want to appeal to wider audience, probably first 2 work best. Because they are your established characters, i imagine they would be easier to work with, if you are just starting.

I’m probably a small percent of people, who would enjoy all 4. For me, i don’t really care for gender or appearance that much, they just add to a character more. So for me there are no difference. I want the meat of the characters so to speak, the center of their character, personality, their story/backstory, how they change through the course of the story etc. If the character is interesting, i’m all in.

Because oh man, i find that you can do some fun stuff with customizable LI/RO. Maybe even add that part of them into the story. Or maybe even subvert some stuff, “I made the this way and turned out you are not what i made at all”. Can try some fun stuff with that.
In the end it depends on what you want, which seems like more fun for you personally, go with that :hugs:

Like a lot of the other commenters in this thread, I prefer

I don’t have a distinct preference between gender-selectable and gender-set characters, but here are the reasons I prefer not to customize the names and appearances of characters who aren’t related to my MC:

  • Like many people have pointed out, it makes the character feel like a blank slate–flat and empty
  • It is immersion breaking–some people dislike gender-selectable characters for the same reason. I can suspend my disbelief for the gender thing, but I don’t want to play god… unless I’m playing god
  • Religious & ethnic/racial backgrounds are really important parts of characterization, and relying on generic or colorblind characterizations risks making characters who don’t feel very realistic
  • Good characters need motivations, which come from backstories and identities. Some backstories, experiences, and identities are colorblind, but not all or most

From the writer’s perspective:

  • You give up a lot of control (and with it the ability to write with specificity) when you let the players customize NPCs
  • Testing and discussing the game becomes more difficult since nobody playing the game will have the same baseline experience (especially if all the NPCs have different names in each player’s game)

This is really cool! I think there are a couple of other WIPs around here somewhere where the MC’s appearance affects the appearances of other characters in the game. I think the important difference, though, is that the writer is still in control of those appearances and what they mean.

I think I’m somewhere in the middle. When first introduced, I think the description should be rather short so that I don’t feel like I’m getting bogged down in the weeds trying to get back to the story. I’m also just less likely to remember stuff if I’m given too many details at once. Skin-tone, hair (texture, length, color, or some combination thereof), height, and probably eye color (even though I would never note eye color in real life). As the story goes on, adding little details here and there (button nose, plump lips, heart-shaped face, etc) is good imo.

I think maybe one hyper-customizable character (like a best friend or potential RO) among a cast of more set characters could work, but I think more than one is pushing it.

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I strongly prefer the first two (in fact I strongly prefer the first one) because I don’t want the work of writing my own character… I was to be surprised and delighted by a character, and to fall in love with them faults* and all.

*even if the faults are merely preferences eg race, it still makes them feel more real to me.

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Thank you to everyone for your opinions! Moving forward I’m looking at a choice at the beginning,

1). Select each character’s gender as you meet them

2). Use “Default” characters, aka use the gender + name the character originally had as I created them, with a note that this will lead to a gender-biased cast

3). Randomize gender for all characters

I can see I’m in the minority as I don’t mind and sometimes prefer control over ROs. Thanks for the feedback everyone. I look forward to getting something pieced together over the coming months!

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Personally i hate this one. It always take me “out” of the story when i have to select gender of every character on the first meeting. But if it has to be done i prefer the way Wayhaven handled it, gender of characters based on MCs sexuality selected during games start.

I would prefer this. For better or worse this option has best potential for strong and detailed characters.

No. This is just the first option with a dash of RNG and i would rather avoid any kind of RNG in these games.

Some games give the choice between these three

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Hi!

This is why it would be an option at the first, along with the content filter. I understand that some people do just want to see the original characters. That’s exciting to me as a writer, I’d like to share these characters with the readers, but I also understand that it’s disheartening at times to not be able to romance people of the gender you are attracted to. Some players like having MCs that are different from themselves,including gender or sexuality. That’s cool, I want to be able to support these kinds of MCs in my stories. Some players want to be able to be an ideal “you”, whatever that looks like to them, they wanna pick up all the gentlemen, ladies, non binary peeps, or all at the same time, and I want to support those experiences too.

If it’s overall preferred I could replace the third option with a set based on MC sexuality, or add it as another option fourth option.

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Oh, i have nothing against gender selection as such. It’s just the “as you meet them” bit i personally don’t like. It’s not a “deal breaker”, it’s just annoyance of mine.

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See, I really dislike it when games do that for two reasons:

  1. I like having a fairly gender-balanced cast, which in this case wouldn’t be possible if playing with a straight or gay MC.

  2. I like always choosing the same gender for a specific gender-selectable RO, like a personal canon of sorts. Having them change based on the MC’s preferences would either limit my choice of MC or annoy me by having the RO gender switch between playthroughs.

Honestly, if the characters’ genders are an important component of how you imagine them, you should probably just have them be set-gender. It’s usually pretty obvious when the writer thinks of the character as being one gender and only added the other option(s) for the sake of the fanbase.


It seems like the best conclusion to take from this thread is that there’s no pleasing everyone and that you should therefore write the game you want.

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I actually dislike this. Even if I’m playing, say, a lesbian character, it doesn’t mean I don’t want any of the meaningful characters to be male. Non ROs tend to be bland in most WIPs, and I find it unrealistic for all developed characters to share a gender.

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Hmm, I get what you’re saying, though for me as a writer I think it would be interesting to work with. I think while gender and how a person is raised can influence them, it shouldn’t define them, and I try to write my characters based off this belief.

For example, I guess if Mira, one of the ROs was male it wouldn’t really change his motivations or character traits. He’d still disagree with his father and his sister and the running of the gang he left. He’d still be a hacker and in charge of his own fringe gang in a smaller district. He’d still have long black hair, brown eyes, and a caffeine dependency.

As this is a passion project I’m working on in my spare time, I would also personally not be opposed to writing a new male character to take Mira’s spot in the story, as a gang leader, but different motivations and backstory, I guess more similar to an early game branch.

I’d definitely agree though that people have varried opinions and since I’m going to be doing the work at the end of the day I have to love the work I’m putting in, otherwise it’ll never get done. I personally have to admit I’m surprised that people would prefer gender locking characters completely, predominately, in my case it means the story would appeal to male attracted people as only Mira and Cherry were originally girls

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Personally, I haven’t played through all of Wayhaven, but this was one of the turn-offs for me, I didn’t know everyone was going to be set based on my sexuality question and I felt a little like I’d fallen into an Ouran Host type club, lol

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Now I actually want to not give the option to select the ”default” genders for the ROs in the story I’m writing, just to see how they read as to the readers :thinking:

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I think that might be interesting too! I feel like a lot of the debate around a “default” gender might have something to do with how biases work, like maybe if a default is specified, the other might seem shallow in comparison?

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I also dislike this, because one of my MCs, I personally imagined him identifying as bi, but the game has to think he’s gay because I wanted him to romance Adam and not Ava. I think it was Fallen Hero that gave the option before the game even started (so it didn’t even halt the story to ask) to set the gender-selectable characters as one gender, randomize, or decide to select them as you meet them. Something like that.

On the subject of Wayhaven

I prefer these two, but the gender selection part of Wayhaven has lead to some homophobia towards mlm (among other -isms towards characters like Mason) in the fandom, so I don’t mind gender-slectable ROs but I prefer they just be set characters (with few exceptions for certain tropes)

For me, it reminds me of when a romance game has a “true ending” or “true RO.” It just sounds like the writer saying, “Fine, I’ll give you a choice, but you’re playing it wrong.” And makes me wonder why they bother with a choice at all if they’ve had one set thing in mind all along.

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Well, it could, for example, be that the story started as a non-interactive one, so the default genders would be what characters were in that.

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Good point! I don’t want to give those kinds of impressions, I usually really hate the “true” endings in visual novels anyway. Like I said earlier in the thread I don’t believe any of the characters would change in motivation if their gender identity changed.

I definitely do want to give players the option of having ROs that appeal to them/ their MC though, I want the game to be accessible to LGBT players, like myself.

I’d forgotten about that! Probably since I like to select as I go but I could definitely have this and a random option for people who don’t like to be interrupted.

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Hi everyone,

Another quick question I’d appreciate some feedback on. When it comes to names, do you prefer the names to be similar, like Nate/Nat in Wayhaven for example or different like in Fallen Hero?