Royal Affairs Discussion Thread and Romance Guide (Spoilers Within)

It would appeal to me too, to be fair! I think it would definitely work as a book or books, but it would probably be a lot of fun (or grim fun) as a game too. Maybe one day!

I have a handful of ideas about same-protagonist-across-multiple-games, including that one and some sort of university-intrigue → Cambridge-Spies-ish situation idea, but it would definitely be working at a higher difficulty… in general I’m not settled on what the frothiness/darkness balance will be for whatever I end up doing next. Honor Bound is more serious in some ways than Creme and Royal Affairs, but also more communal/cosy in others, so I’ll be keeping an eye on how that tone lands.

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Happy birthday, Royal Affairs! It’s been a year since it came out and I’ve been over the moon about how it’s been received. It’s meant that I’ve been able to write full-time, make Honor Bound as rich and detailed at high speed, and do a lot of physical and mental health recovery after various periods of burnout. I’m really grateful for everyone’s support, here and elsewhere, and it really makes a huge difference.

I had so much fun returning to the characters after a while away for the epilogue - if you enjoyed the game at release and haven’t replayed for the epilogue, I very much recommend giving it a go!

After beta testing, I wrote up a retrospective about what came up and how I organised my work. I thought I’d share it for some insight into my process, for players and authors. Here it is:

Beta testing retrospective

In Crème de la Crème I ended up adding large branches to the plot during beta, but I was fortunate not to have to do it this time around. Mostly it was building on what was there or bringing certain things to the forefront, or adding a few different ways of navigating situations.

As feedback came in, I was lucky enough to have so much that it became unwieldy to act on it in one go, so I made a priority list.

Highest priority was game breaking bugs or large continuity problems like Dominique’s final game scene switching to Beaumont’s.

High priority was smaller continuity bugs like the game confusing who you were romancing or whether you had or hadn’t done a particular action earlier.

Medium priority was things like small scene additions or multi romance responses, or tweaking first impressions of characters, and so on.

Low priority was nice-to-haves like allowing a character to be romanced only late on.

Alongside this, I fixed typos and made small adjustments - easy wins that added polished. There were also some major sweeps that I did: a stat test clarity sweep, a stat change sweep, a reduction of tests in casual conversations, and repetitive words or phrases.

Stat test clarity:
I picked 3-4 stat tests at random from each chapter, copied their text into a separate document, and highlighted words that reflected the stats. For example: for Authoritative I had things like “I order them to…” “I tell them what to do”, “I stay aloof to maintain my authority…” and so on. I edited testing choices to include these keywords, and also edited the stat guide to include them.

Checking all this had the side effect of helping me spot unnecessary tests or points where the stat being tested just didn’t match the situation at hand.

Stat changes:
There are a lot of points where stats can change, and not all of them made sense at the start of beta. I did variations of this sweep several times, including the Action Skills, NPC stats, and adding a lot more chances to boost your Powers of Persuasion. Again doing this check helped me spot unnecessary or unintuitive tests and changes.

Tests in casual conversations
This was again something that I iterated several times. Some of the commentary about Crème de la Crème said that the stat tests felt punishing or too difficult, and an early playtest from my wife flagged that some of the tests in Royal Affairs felt unfair. Why should a character’s relationship reduce when you’re trying to be affectionate, if the circumstances aren’t in a state where that makes sense?

So I stripped out a lot of this, generally replacing a success/failure with flavour text (such as a Subtle MC perhaps being, well, more subtle about holding hands with someone). In some cases, where a character needs to be drawn out of themselves to talk more emotionally (Beaumont or Hyacinthe, on occasion), or they see the conversation as a contest or challenge in some way (mostly Javi or Trevelyan), I left them in. But I liked that they were a rarity rather than default.

Repetitive words or phrases
As I was writing, sometimes I noticed that I was overusing phrases, so if I got that feeling I would make a note for the sweep. In the end there wasn’t as much as that as I thought, but there were a lot of qualifier-type words that reduce the impact of a sentence - “a little” was one, or “really”, usually in dialogue - or filler words like “down” in sentences like “you sit down beside them”. I also looked for phrases like “you know” or “you suspect” to spot places where I could express whatever it was that the MC knows more elegantly. (This is a tip a former colleague told me once that I’ve never forgotten!)

More involved edits
With some major things that I did change, I’d put them on my to-do list before beta but they were either unwieldy and I wanted to start testing sooner rather than later, or I wanted to check whether other people agreed. It was great to have more opinions and mostly they confirmed what I’d thought. With others, I studied the feedback to gauge whether the effort of making the changes would be worth the payoff. In most cases, I decided to go for it.

In general, this stage involved adding things, including:

  • more worldbuilding details to give more context to the plot
  • more teacher interactions throughout; added scenes as well as offhand references to other classes; more about Clemence and Vere and expanded outcomes to their storyline
  • romanceable characters responding to players romancing other people: in the moment, checking in about where your relationship was at, and a set of final breakup conversations if it was left until the very last minute (this was a very big undertaking and would have been better to do earlier - a lesson I’ve taken to Honor Bound)
  • lengthening the main suffrage debate
  • adding slow-paced romance dynamics for two characters (I was really keen to do this but was disciplined about making it low priority - it was a lovely idea and I knew I’d enjoy doing it, but it was very much a nice-to-have compared to other things. I was delighted to be able to do it!)
  • more communal scenes with classmates to give more of a sense of living in each other’s pockets
  • adding an option to confide in Asher about a particular plot point and for them to assist with it if wanted (I was so happy about adding this: it’s one of my favourite Asher moments, even if few people see it!)
  • tweaking some of the friendship/romance conversations to add more emotional chat (mostly this applied to Javi and Hyacinthe; there was a bit added to Asher and Dominique at Verdancy)
  • more pet time
  • more narrative and conversational responsiveness about whether an imperilled character was romanced
  • more Javi asexuality chat
  • more detailed outfit descriptions throughout with more choices about what to wear
  • generally expanding some scenes to give more breathing room to important moments

In the end I added 45000 words to the game after the first draft, thanks to feedback from editor review, continuity testing, copyediting, and beta playtesters. Testing took place during late December 2022 and January 2023, and I massively appreciate everyone who contributed to make this big game as polished as it is!

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Thank you for sharing this! Royal Affairs has a special place in my heart as one of my favorite games I’ve worked on, both during the original beta period and, more recently, for the epilogue. I’m glad it has been such a success, and of course I’m glad you’re returning to a world I’ve come to love dearly for a fourth game. As long as you’re willing to expand upon that world, I know my fellow fans and I will be right here lapping up every detail. Thank you so much for creating this wonderful story, and on behalf of all your testers, thank you for allowing us to be part of the journey.

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Oh, I really appreciate that! Your input is always invaluable, and my games you’ve playtested wouldn’t be nearly so polished, nor so successful, without your thoughts. I have dust in my eye… :face_holding_back_tears:

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You’ve poured so much into this game! This is a fun write up and a lovely way to celebrate the past year. I know I felt incredibly grateful for all the beta feedback on TMP (and most recently the demo for Ink), so I can relate and enjoy seeing your approach and thought process. I absolutely love that this has allowed you to write full-time! :revolving_hearts:

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Thank you so much, I really appreciate it!

When I’m getting feedback I have a tendency to want to race to implement any changes I want to make, but prioritising it was very helpful to get myself to do it in a sensible way.

For Royal Affairs it was interesting because I did implement most of the changes suggested/requested. There were only a few (such as things that would compromise character elements, or were out of scope like showing what characters were doing many years in the future) that I didn’t end up doing. I’ve forgotten now how that proportion measures up with other games I’ve done, but I’ll try and remember it for future ones to compare!

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Thank you for giving us this game, Hannah!

Without this, you’d probably wouldn’t have worked on what you are working on today.

Going into this full time is indeed challenging- and I’m thankful that at least you’re surviving?

Without this, Welcome to Hellwaters probably would not exist either.

All the best!

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I very much appreciate it, thank you! I’m pleased to be in a situation where I’m thriving, recent illnesses notwithstanding. It was a leap of faith to focus on my CoG work after my last studio job finished, and Royal Affairs coming out was the point at which I would have needed to rethink and do something else if it hadn’t been popular. The way I’ve been working since Royal Affairs was released has really helped my burnout and general health.

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@HarrisPS Could I ask you somthing in next Background’s book ? Will Mc announce as crown prince/princess insteal Josie ? and how I get achievement “Lucile apporve” ?

Thank you in advance

For the achievement, you need to have as high Citizen Popularity as you can during the chapters in which the Lucile interviews happen.

About the Royal Affairs MC’s future, I’ll take from an answer I gave on Tumblr a while back:

It may end up being mentioned more down the line, but in Honor Bound for example, it’s not something the MC would have reason to know about as at that point it’s part of private conversations rather than public announcements.

I’ll check what’s included in the introduction quiz for Honor Bound to make sure it covers all the bases for where the MC is at the end of Royal Affairs.

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Are Asher and Beaumont the only two ROs that are (possibly) slow burners? I tried it with Trevelyan but it didn’t happen (I didn’t get the opportunity for romance in Chapter 11).

Also will Military!RA MC possibly make an appearance (or even be mentioned) in Honor Bound?

Asher and Beaumont are the only ones that can be that slow, yep. There was a bit too much else going on with Trevelyan to be able to fit in one for them unfortunately.

I’ve had some thoughts about the Royal Affairs MC in Honor Bound! I considered putting them onscreen in Chapter 4 but it was a bit too much as there’s so many things thrown at the HBMC during that chapter. But: I have thoughts about them perhaps showing up later on in the game. There will be more mentions for sure whatever I do on that front; I held back on it a bit when I was first drafting, partly because there were some gaps that I filled in after the fact with the RA epilogue and partly because I don’t like going overboard with references (but I think readers will generally have a high tolerance for it!).

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I personally think you are quite good at including the references and easter eggs (and PCs past) without making it feel like we must have played the past games/played them a certain way to truly enjoy the newest Cremeverse installment(s). Of course this is coming from someone who’s played CdlC, NO, and RA.

You’d mentioned that Florin might reappear in HB. Would Dominique (although I’ve always gotten the military ending for them)? I kinda want to see them meet. I think they would either be great friends or mortal enemies, no in-between.

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hi just popping in to ask if this is a bug: i can’t save at the end of royal affairs like i could with the other creme games. is that on purpose?

They’ll probably add the ability to save shortly before the fourth game is released.

You should be able to currently, I think, though I’m not totally sure - did you get the extra epilogue when you go on holiday? If you can send an email to support (at) choiceofgames (dot) com they will be able to clarify!

i did get that epilogue. i’ll shoot them an email, thanks!

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It’s now saveable at the end! Thank you for mentioning this - it made us spring into action to make sure it was in there. Much appreciated!

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Looking forward for more info regarding the next entry on your game series Harris, your projects are always eye catching and more worldbuilding for the Creme de la creme universe is most appreciated.

Finally got around to save my Royal Affairs playthrough with Javi and Dominique with a deeply involved in politics MC, best ending there is!

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Harris, not Hannah :slight_smile:

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