So, I searched and I don’t think there’s another topic about this issue… Also, this is my first post, so please berate away if I’m going about this wrong.
I’ll try to make this short (it’s not, though… sorry).
Basically, I’ve been finding myself more and more fascinated by the romance aspects of Interactive Fiction. And, after reading some really fun examples of inter-relationship angsty jealous drama – such as, Malin Rydén’s (malinryden) Fallen Hero Rebirth, carawenfiction’s WIP The Shadow Society, Mishka Jenkin’s (seraphinite) The Wayhaven Chronicles, Devon Connell’s (MultipleChoice) Samurai of Hyuga, Kreg Segall’s Tally Ho, jeantown’s Guenevere – I started wondering about how fun (or not) it might be to put the MC in love triangles where they are not the center of it.
Not even necessarily love triangles, but I do like the idea of exploring either a more realistic or needlessly messier/drama-ier version of a romance where the MC’s chosen RO has romantic interests outside of the MC and maybe even where those interests are their primary interest. In other words, where the MC has a “rival” for the RO’s affections.
Influences/Examples listed above
(just to be clear, I adore all these games, none of these comments are at all meant as criticism)
SoH has at least one character who may have another interest beyond you, and yet another RO for whom another character shares affections. However, in both cases, the reciprocity of said feelings are not - yet - clear and so I’m not sure how much the game will/won’t represent this situation.
Tally Ho is the closest example I’ve personally played of an MC in a possible love triangle where they’re one of the “sides”, though I’m not sure I’d consider it entirely as such given that all three characters had the possibility of being interested in each other. (admittedly, I haven’t played it in a while, so I could be misrepresenting it – a wonderful game, tough!)
Guenevere already has quite a few variations of the love triangle (rectangle? Pentagon?), of which you’re the center, so far. From what I understand, the groundwork is being laid for some extra messiness where your ROs might also hold affections for others (probably in the TH vein of a poly romance, though). But that hasn’t been explored quite yet, so…
FH:R is a special case which gets to have its cake and eat it too, with MC being both the center and one of the edges of the triangle (delicious evilness). But, of course, most games don’t have malin’s delicious deviousness.
Which bleeds into the next problem: that of choice.
In FL:R, because of the aforementioned special situation, this added wrench in the relationship isn’t exactly a surprise to the player/MC, who is quite implicitly aware of what they’re doing.
TWHC goes a step further with the player getting to explicitly choose whether or not to go down the beginnings of a love triangle – being, alternatively, able to romance each RO independently of such complications.
Of course, that sort of choice/agency is a lot harder to accomplish, I think, when the whole concept of having a “rival” to your RO is that the RO is the one who, ultimately, makes some sort of choice.
Some questions then:
Can it be enjoyable/engaging to be one of the “hanging limbs” of the love “pyramid”, in the same way that being its center is? TSS, for one, already has a great jealousy system which, depending on the ROS with which you trigger it, can be anything from sad to funny to hot. Could such jealousy scenes be equally engaging if you’re not the “fought over good”? Or would it just be a quick in the groin to feel even half “unwanted”?
How problematic/off-putting is it if you, as a player, don’t have a choice in whether this “added complication” of a second interest for your RO exists at all – only if you wish to pursue them regardless? Or perhaps not even know of it until later down the line?
Any problematic issues you think this could bring up?
Personally, I’d be wary of encouraging the idea that you should “fight” for someone’s attention at all. As I see it, if they’re not interested, they’re not, please just move along. (But then again in real life I hate any sort of romantic entanglements at all, specially love triangles, which, in IF, I can safely enjoy, so…?)
Finally, have you already played games with this sort of dynamic? Did you love it, hate it? Would you do anything differently?
How would you feel about not being, as the MC/player, the center of a love triangle? Or about your chosen RO having secondary or even non-you-primary love interests, who’d be your romantic rivals? Engaging or a bummer?
If you managed to get through all that, or if you skipped it entirely, I’d love to hear people’s thoughts!