Story Questions

#1

Hello! I’m getting started on my first ChoiceScript game. I’m intending to make a Modern Supernatural Romance/Thriller, but I am running into some questions that I could use some help with.

Should I have a separate path for each romance option, or a common path with romantic side scenes?
Separate paths for each would be more immediately linear to code and add to replayability, but it would certainly be a lot more writing, as I would have to create a narrative arc for each romance option. A common path with conditional scenes would be more complex to code and detract a little from replayability, but it would also be a much simpler thing to write as I would only need to make one overarching story plot.

Should I include poly/ace romances?
I’m already allowing pronoun/gender choice and non-binary romance options with no sex/gender lock on which characters you can pursue, as I want things to be as inclusive as possible. I’m a little torn on writing polyamorous and asexual romances, though, mostly because they aren’t my strong suit. But, if there’s enough interest, I’m willing to give it a shot.

Any help on these would be much appreciated! All opinions are valid, so don’t feel shy to let me know what you think! I’ve written some novels and the like before, but this is my first actual game, so I’m fairly out of my depth! :slight_smile:

3 Likes
#2

I don’t know if there are any COG/Hosted games that truly do a separate path for each romance option (which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!). Wayhaven has you explicitly choose a romantic interest, but is functionally closer to “common path with side scenes” (at least so far). It sounds like you’re talking about a more visual novel style approach, where you get a few common chapters and then the plot largely depends on who you choose to romance. My concerns with that would be (1) a lot more writing, and (2) largely reducing player agency to which path you choose (this doesn’t necessarily follow from the separate path approach, but it is something to watch). Also, I could see a lot of player frustration in the vein of “I’m interested in the action of Path A, but I really want to romance Character B instead.”

I absolutely think you should include ace romances — I don’t think it should be that much of a stretch to write. (Like, if there’s a character you absolutely can’t see in an ace romance, then that’s…a choice, but I don’t think ace romance is an out-there ask.)

I am generally pro poly options, but, what do you mean by poly romance? If it’s an everyone-in-the-polycule-is-dating-each-other situation, then I do think it could be a lot of work. But it could also be really rewarding, as it can give you space to explore interpersonal dynamics in interesting ways! (Edit: A separate-path, multiple-people-dating-each-other game is now my dream.)

If it’s an MC-dates-multiple-people situation, then I think the big issue is making sure there’s some degree of reactivity. In a lot of games, this can feel more like “there was a bug and now two romances are running simultaneously” than “MC is dating 2+ people and everyone is aware of and happy with this.” But addressing that could just mean throwing in a few extra conversations. (Edit: To be clear, I don’t think poly romances are an out-there ask either, but I do think they require more sustained work on the part of the author to turn out well, and if you’re uncomfortable writing it, I think there’s more room for that to show.)

7 Likes
#3

A separate path for each romance option would be incredible, but is ultimately a lot of work that many writers (including myself) would rather spend developing other parts of the story. I would suggest having one major path with romantic side scenes, and really flesh out these romantic scenes but ultimately converge back to a common path when the scene is over. You can even change minor story elements depending on what character you choose to romance (other characters can comment on it, different epilogues, etc).

What do you find complex about creating a common path with conditional scenes? It shouldn’t be too difficult with proper use of gosubs and such (I can show you example code if you want!)

Poly and ace romances seem to be among the most-requested among the reader base as many games don’t include these options. Inclusiveness is always encouraged, but ultimately it’s your game and you should only write what you feel comfortable writing about that. However, I’m sure many people would be willing to help you through the process of writing strong polyamorous/ ace romances so that you can eventually become comfortable exploring these themes in your writing.

Hope this helps!

2 Likes
#4

@Gabs So, by poly routes, I was intending there to be a mutual love interest between three characters. Specifically, a poly triad. I am pan, myself, but I trend most towards monogamous pro-sexual relationships, so it’s a little outside my wheelhouse to do ace/poly writing, but I definitely think they are both underrepresented, so I wanted to incorporate as much as I could. :slight_smile:

@wambocreator It’s less finding a common path complicated and more… well, I guess just more that my brain wants to set affinity/bond variables for a common path to indicate how close you are with each RO and the flow chart for my scenes would be less tidy. Also, I feel like it does rob the characters some of their individuality and agency, as not all characters would necessarily take the same path. However, doing separate paths also means a lot of writing, particularly if I have a poly path independent of the individual character paths for the two other participants, so I’m a little torn.

Also, absolutely yes to any code snippit you might be alright sharing. While I’m not new to scripting, I am new to ChoiceScript, so it’s helpful to see what other people find works.

1 Like
#6

I did this for Paths and, generally speaking, it was like essentially writing four different narratives because I chose to make my characters so distinct. I would say that, if you are weary about all the extra writing, you might want to make some names and/or genders interchangeable with ${} variables. I think that could reduce the workload a little bit because you wouldn’t have to go through and re-write a separate narrative for each romance option like I did.

#7

@Writing_Fever Well, I’m trying to decide between both options. Either one story with different romance scenes or a separate arc for each romance option. I’m mostly weighing the pros and cons. What would you suggest? :slight_smile:

#9

*label mainplot
Protagonist does some stuff. Story development. Then, you enter a choice where you have the option of playing a scene with a RO.
*choice
# RO 1.
*gosub ro1_path
*goto mainplot2
# RO 2.
*gosub ro2_path
*goto mainplot2

*label ro1_path
Unique story scene for RO1. Blah blah, stuff happens. Maybe have a few pagebreaks and choices, and then finally, you want to return to the main plot.
*return

*label ro2_path
A different unique story scene, blah blah, stuff happens.
*return

*label mainplot2
Finally, you converge back to the main plot, and the story continues as normal.

Hope this was clear, lmk if you want to see my approach to something a little more complex!

#10

Separate character paths would be fun! But also a crazy amount of work! I’d say only really go that route if romance is the main pillar of the story (and the thriller plot more of a background/secondary plot), so you don’t get lost in branching. And if your cast of ROs is limited.

Otherwise, I’m fine with romantic side scenes, as long as they’re unique to the ROs. Trouble comes when I can physically tell that you just wrote a template scene with maybe 2-3 lines of specific flavor text or minor dialogue tweaks. If you have large romance scenes functionally identical between two ROs, especially if I can look at it and say, “yep they used ${love_interest} variables here,” that scene loses all inherent value to me. I no longer care about the romance or the characters, because “Oh, they’re all just going to do the same thing, aren’t they?”

I’d say go for it, if you can. These are chronically underrepresented, and there’s plenty of people on here willing to give you advice. Off the top of my head…

Ace options, the main thing is simply to remember to clean up the narrative (a lot of times, people focus on physical aspects/attraction more than they realize), and to make it seem like there’s enough content to it–rather than just “Oh, you skipped the sex scene, so the romance is automatically 25% shorter here”.

Poly can get crazy real fast, unless you keep it limited like Heart of the House did, with one (or a small handful) of possible poly routes. And, like Gabs pointed out, there should be acknowledgement beyond the game just letting you follow two romance routes simultaneously.

#11

@catorrina I am intending to probably include a single poly triad, maybe two at most so that I can offer differing genders. Same with the ace relationships. While I don’t want to balloon the cast too much, I do want people to find someone they like in this whole thing. :smiley:

@wambocreator Awesome, I really appreciate the code snippit!! I’m still getting used to navigating ChoiceScript, so having a visual aid helps a lot!

1 Like