Romance and Dating sims


#1

Alright so my question is this how do you have a fulfilling romance as well as a stream of choices you feel you made?.. Time for a segway…

I’ve played a handful of dating sims in my day the most recent of which being Dream Daddy on PS4 “I can’t afford a PC master race lifestyle” anyway in said game I initially set out to romance a particular bible toting blond and did so making the choices I would make which is generally how I play all games. Anyway I got locked out of the good ending because I got a poor grade on a prior date.

Which brings us back to choicescript. If I make a romance that requires you choose the right choices throughout your romance than you’re not really making YOUR choices wheras if the romance is achievable from every perceivable angle than it’s not really a choice at all and it’s certainly not a challenge. So I was wondering is there a middle road I’m not seeing?


#2

There should be a certain % of relationship you need to have with someone to be able to achieve a relationship (say 70%). I say this because it takes into account the players wanting to make their own choices but also shows that the RO has a personality of their own. It also somewhat mirrors real life, because you’re not always going to agree with what someone does, it’s just whether or not you’re willing to accept that and move on.


#3

Well said, if only I’d thought of that an hour ago.


#4

I like stats factoring into a romance sim. It makes it a bit more realistic than a “choose your bang partner from this list” which is really boring.

I recommend against locking out a reward for a single action or scene unless it’s really a glaring error like killing their dog. You should be able to apologize for mistakes and have other chances to earn affection. That’s kind of normal.

It’s complicated, but I like variations in the type of relationship you can ‘unlock’, from casual fwb to marriage depending on how you evolve the relationship. Likewise, characters should have some preferences and things the will and won’t do. I’ve seen some that only want a serious committed relationship, others that will only be casual sex and end it if you get emo. Just like real life. Those would be some relationship-ending points, as well.


#5

Have you read Wayhaven Chronicles? I really liked how those relationships were handled. It is nice to be able to choose a personality and have it affect the relationship dynamics without having to worry about making the “right” choices. You can have a sincere, sarcastic, serious, lighthearted, or naïve detective and that personality doesn’t lock you out of choices.

My pet peeve is needing to read a guide step by step to figure out how to romance a character.


#6

Yeah, that is one of the things I like about how Sera structured her game. You can play shy or bold and the dynamic changes but they don’t dump you over personality differences.


#7

I get the impression from the top post that that system isn’t exactly what they’re looking for.

The issue with the Wayhaven system is that it either removes player agency or character agency–in the case of Wayhaven, player agency, as the main character has to be basically a good person. Which isn’t necessarily a negative–I really enjoy that series and it’s characters a lot–but if the main character weren’t limited in scope, then having a system like that could make ROs feel like they don’t have their own say in relationships. If the MC of the Wayhaven Chronicles could want to murder every single new supernatural they come across but like, still get to fall in love and have a completely perfect eternal love with one of the vampire ROs, that would feel really really off. The rel stat system isn’t perfect, but it does give ROs some agency–if they can reject a character who’s done enough things that they don’t like, the relationship can feel more earned and natural. (It doesn’t feel unnatural in Wayhaven, but–as per the author’s own admission and goals–the story is railroaded in order to service that. It’s not an inherently bad thing, but it is unique to that story and won’t work in every game.)

It seems like the question of balance more or less boils down to “how low can rel be before it should have negative impacts on the in-game relationship,” which should really vary between game and game, and character and character. There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer for what the hard rejection line should be.

And there are some romances that are really hard to get, for good reason–sometimes an RO is just really picky and would only realistically be attracted to a specific type of character. Personally, I agree that I prefer ROs that have more intuitive romance paths, or at least less strict ones, but if it’s designed to be intentionally difficult I don’t think that’s strictly a bad thing


#8

ZESH’s romance is important really good too, you can romance everyone according to choices you make but it takes into account your and RO’s personality too, like you can romance Rachel if you just flirt with her but it will not be mutual as she’ll just be ‘leading you on’ which you can notice by having high empathy and if you flirt/have good relationship with her and make choices to be an able leader and survivor then she’ll genuinely like you and even show you her pet stray cat


#9

Very much this. :grimacing: It’s fine to have a character respond positively to MCs who are nice to them and act in ways they approve of, but there has to be some margin for error. If I have to actually use a walkthrough (or read the code) to romance someone, it’ll feel far less realistic than just playing the game naturally.


#10

Re: Your Dream Daddy romance. I’m afraid to say that Joseph has no good ending. You just cannot end up in a relationship with him. Unless you were aiming to be his side piece. I think the best ending is something along the lines of that. But I could be wrong. It’s been a while since I played DD.

Personally, I prefer love interests who aren’t simply player-sexual and want to jump the MC regardless of their personality and choices. However, I agree that there should be a middle road because I’m also not much of a fan of Tokimeki Memorial-style games that require the MC to raise specific stats and wear the LI’s preferred clothing style to dates in order to impress them. I don’t want to constantly micro-manage my romance experience.

Since I recently replayed it: I really liked the romance progression in Tin Star. You get to know the characters, and if they like you enough, you get the opportunity to initiate a romance with them. But it’s all optional and the story and friendships are great even if you choose to remain single throughout the game. Plus, I never got the impression I had to “work” for an LI.


#11

@loyallyroyal: I lol’d at “read a guide step by step to figure out how to romance a character.” That’s exactly what I’ve done for the Harvest Moon video games. I didn’t want to waste time figuring out what clothes ROs liked or what they wanted as gifts :rofl:

My opinion, romance aspects are best when they can be believable. Granted, being able to romance multiple partners at the same time (with no consequences) is not real life for most people. But having your choices, regardless of the motivations, affect your relationship with RO(s) makes sense. I think it’s more fair for an MC’s relationship stat, if number/percentage based, instead of a true/false set up, to affect what options or events they encounter. Like if the MC reaches 80% with a RO, they can have a serious relationship.

Haha, actually when you said “…a romance that requires you choose the right choices throughout your romance than you’re not really making YOUR choices…” it reminds me of regular life. Some people make choices they normally wouldn’t make for the sake of a romantic interest, like going to an event or reading a book they usually have no interest in :grin: