Unrequited love?

In the “pairing ROs with characters other than MC” threads, the general opinion has been split. My stance on the issue is that it’s okay for the ROs to find love elsewhere after PC has locked in their choice, but that falsely-advertised “ROs” who will always end up with another character are not okay. However, I am fond of the “unrequited love” trope (whether or not it is ever requited), and would like to include it in a hypothetical future CSG I would write.

My first question is: would people play a game wherein you can choose to fall in unrequited love (and it will never be requited; if PC does try to confess or start a relationship with this character(s), they would be politely-but-firmly (or simply firmly) rejected) with certain characters if the unrequited love is a: advertised in every description of the game, and b: there are ROs that do return PC’s feelings?

My second question is: should the aforementioned unrequited-love interests be marked in-game? Or would that break immersion?

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I’m sure there are many around here who would love that (and, likely, without any warnings). The majority seems to enjoy ROs romancing other ROs or NPCs, to the point where they feel the game is “lacking” without it. So, it’s likely something that would be appreciated.

You and I have talked enough to know my feelings on the matter, though. If I knew that was in the game, I wouldn’t touch it with someone else’s ten foot pole. Doesn’t matter if there are other ROs that will return the MC’s feelings or not, I would still avoid it. Besides, knowing my track record, the only RO that would appeal to me (from a reading perspective) would be the one my MC could never have.

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Yes; there are those that enjoy that type of romance arc as well (as Chani says).

A current WiP where there is an unrequited love is @Jjcb’s superhero story. From the feedback he has received, the character in question is a popular choice, even though he has repeatedly said that she will never requite the MC’s love. In fact, anyone who chooses this path should be prepared for heartbreak.

As long as you make it clear to the reader, in an author’s note, for example, then I think you would not need to note it ingame.

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I also quite like this idea, and I would play a game that had this in it.

I do think if one is going to have an unrequited love route that it be very clear that this character is not fully romanacable to limit confusion.

I personally wouldn’t like it in game, but I am someone who would look at things like the forum or Tumblr to have more information about a game/characters I liked, People who wouldn’t do that might like an in game warning so they don’t get frustrated thinking they are doing something wrong. Maybe there is some less immersion breaking way of doing it like a pregame screen or in that stats screen?

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I would absolutely support that concept and I think the easiest solution to marking them would just to have a choice at the start asking if you want to know who they are or stay immersed.

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Honesty i would play that game if the game is good enough with other ros being great but I’ll never choose to romance that ro which is mentioned as an unrequited love.
Yes i do think such things need warning but i also think there is no need to specify which ro it will be leave it to the readers to figure it out .

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This, really. The big reason it needs to be clear to the reader, as a note, is so that the reader won’t sit there throwing attempts at it getting frustrated that it doesn’t work, or won’t keep restarting the game in an attempt to ‘get it right’.

What I’d probably do is put a note at the start like “Hey, some of these characters can never be successfully romanced. You can try but it’s going to be unrequited love and there’s nothing you can do about that. Do you want to know who those characters are?”

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This one is tricky for me, because I am a sucker for unrequited love but only if the feelings get returned in the end. If it was a story focused on dealing with (and trying to get over) unrequited love, I would be intrigued.

If it’s just a story that’s not related to it at all and they’re just “ROs” that can’t be romanced, I would most likely just avoid them.

I don’t see a problem with them being in the story. It’s not something that personally interests me, but I know there are people that would love this kinda thing. Definitely agree with specifying which characters are the ones that can’t be romanced so people don’t think it’s a personal fail but an actual scripted thing.

Actually now that I think about it, there’s a kinda unrequited love thing going on in Heroes of the Myth that even I enjoyed, the way they rejected the MC was based on the relationship % you had with said character (maybe stats also, I can’t remember anymore), I thought it was a nice touch.

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As someone who loves angst and drama I can definitely enjoy something like this if done a certain way. I play IF games mainly for romance, so if choosing to have unrequited love for a character means my MC will barely have any romantic interactions throughout the game, I wouldn’t like that. Instead, I would prefer the unrequited “RO” to be an addition to another fully romanceable RO, forming a kind of love triangle in which the MC have feelings for two people. Plus, I don’t want my MC to be alone by the end of the game.

I think it’s better to have an in-game note about this character. You wouldn’t want casual readers to get upset and demand a refund because they’ve been “tricked” into romancing someone without a happy ending. Personally, I would 100% like to know who the unrequited love character is beforehand because I usually create the MC for a specific route, and I would be frustrated if I wasted the time creating the MC for a doomed route without knowing. The suggestion that was made by some people here about asking the readers if they want to know who won’t reciprocate MC’s feelings at the beginning of the game is probably the best solution that would satisfy different kinds of readers.

It’s also better to provide a good and logical reason why the character can’t be fully romanced, because readers who love this character will likely try to persuade you to make them reciprocate MC’s feelings in the end.

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Yes. Yes. Yes!!
I would be angry if it turned out that the “RO” I chose for romance isn’t actually RO. I consider it cheating the reader.

Would I play a game like that? Maybe yes maybe no. ROs are secondary to me, more important is whether the game’s plot and MC are interesting.

What do I think about the idea… I guess I’m neutral? I mean I could choose option to have my MC fall in love with non-ro (sometimes I like some drama) but that would depend on the character’s personality, who they are and what impression they made on me. Now I’m reminded of one short wip on itch.io where MC may have been in love with their friend (and he wasn’t aware of it but his wife was, lol). It was pretty cool to play, tho I was like: “poor, poor MC, I want to hug them” :pleading_face:

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I am broadly positive about this. In CoGs I prefer that there are other romance interests that I like around and can romance if one doesn’t work out. In other types of games I don’t mind so much (eg 80 Days). I really liked the Tesla relationship in War of the Currents.

From my experience and observation, though, a large swathe - I don’t know enough to say majority, but if they’re a minority they’re very loud - of players don’t like it at all.

A lot of players really want characters to be either friends or romances (preferably romances); no blurring. I’ve seen the comments made about War of the Currents and Teahouse of the Gods. On a more personal level, when I worked on a reality-TV-show-based dating sim, for production constraints we were allowed only a limited number of “endgame” ROs, so we had to make some characters unrequited and/or a brief fling; players mostly hated both because they felt that the game had “promised” them a committed love story with all characters. (They also hated when the game warned them that certain characters were unromanceable :laughing: it was a strange time)

Edit: something else, which is much less hatey and more an interesting data point - I often get (non-nasty) messages about emotional intimacy with Florin from Creme de la Creme asking about whether they would fall in love with the MC. I wouldn’t characterise Florin’s route as unrequited; I think Florin is very clear about what the player can expect from the relationship; I enjoy Florin and am happy with how I wrote them; I know plenty of players like them; I also believe a lot of players would like them even more if in the game Florin turned round and said “I didn’t think love was for me, but you’ve changed my mind”. I enjoy that sort of story too, but it’s not Florin’s story! In general, players are often very, very aware of real or perceived asymmetry in their romance paths, whether that’s unrequited love or someone like Florin saying “I’m not into big shows of romantic commitment”. And they don’t always like that.

That said, I absolutely think it’s a fun thing and an exciting thing to broaden horizons and expectations about what a romance path can look like! I would dearly love to see more acceptance of less conventional romance routes and I’d be delighted ingame if I tried to romance someone, it didn’t work out, but we could have a strong relationship despite or because of that experience. In the dating sim I mention above, I was pleased to see that some players did access and enjoy that dynamic with a couple of the characters, even if it wasn’t a popular choice overall.

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Nah… I’ll pass. Even if there is one, i’ll prolly not gonna touch it. I’m not fond of drama nor angst.

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My suggestion is to, instead of telling players which RO is unrequiting, ask them if they want to turn off the unrequited romance path. Then, in the code have an *if statement guarding options related to the unrequited romance.

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if we can turn this off, I wouldn’t mind playing, because if I want to read something like that, I would read a book, thank very much. There’s actually a game like this about heroes (lol) that I dropped after 2 chapter after knowing…not playing anything from that author ever again.

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I think I would be ok with it but it would have to be carefully done.

Like, if it happened early enough in the game that your character had time to move on with someone else, and it didn’t lock you out of other ROs (either directly or indirectly through not being able to spend enough time with them due to spending it with the unrequited RO), I think it could have been interesting. It might also be interesting to explore how the MC might conceivably move on, for instance would they be hung up on their unrequited love throughout the game? How would they respond to another character confessing to them?

I just think it would maybe not well received if you could spend the entire game chasing a character (and in most CS games that comes at the expense of building relationships with anyone else) just to be told “yeah its not happening”. But, I also think it could be interesting if it was used to add further depth to the story.

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Funny, I remember when I met a character that I really liked and found out I couldn’t romance them I was like: “Okay, then can my PC choose to love this character and become their guardian angel regardless they won’t love me back?”
Finding out a character that I like but can’t romance is hurt but having a choice to love them would hurt less.
Even if I can’t romance them I can still have a choice to love them right?

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I wouldn’t play the unrequited path. It would honestly feel like a waste of time (not saying you shouldn’t do it, just isn’t for me). But if you do make that path, you should state it very clearly. In the description would probably be the best place for it

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I would absolutely love that. I’m always looking for unique RO options or plots. Anything for more drama.

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I don’t mind but they shouldn’t be advertised romance options since they’re options you can’t romance.

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Nothing wrong with making an unrequited love path. What I do have a problem with is marketing this character as Romantic Option. If there is no romance with character they are not really an RO, are they?

Also the even biggest factor is how well written this path is vs how well written ROs are. If, for example, said unrequited love person had way more spotlight and content than ROs then I would be a bit disappointed. And IMO said path should not be mandatory/should be avoidable. Personally nothing turns me off like having game spell out how my character feels for me without giving choice (example - intial attraction of MC to breden in choice of rebels).

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