I would love that. The only down side I see is that every third comment in the thread would be people complaining or questioning why their otp doesn’t love them.
I asked my best buddy ChatGPT. This is what they had to say. It was surprisingly useful. Honestly I don’t know why someone flagged my post.
How to plot a slow-burn romance?
You mentioned Finch in your initial post, and I kind of feel like that romance in particular is more friends-to-lovers than slow burn. If I recall correctly, there isn’t a whole lot of pre relationship drama; you admit your feelings for each other fairly quickly. Most of the drama comes from uh… significantly after where other things are prioritized over the relationship. I think I like that romance so much because most of the content is about being in a relationship post marriage (I’m pretty sure you get married?) and about the fallout when someone puts their job above their personal relationships.
On the subject of slow burn, I don’t mind it, but there’s a good middle point where it “works” for me. If they get together too quickly, it isn’t slow burn, if it takes too long I get bored. I think the appeal of slow burn is that the romance builds gradually. Its not instant soulmates or anything, it presents the idea that a more realistic love, with all the doubts, questioning and insecurity, can still have a happy ending. That even if its not magical love at first sight, even if it takes a while to realize, everything can still work out.
I am very interested in playing and writing stories like this! I will say that since making Crème de la Crème I’ve encountered a lot of questions about Florin, who is a character who doesn’t act particularly romantically towards the MC (but I would say does act fondly if their relationship is high enough), and whether Florin would fall in love/how they would act if they were in love, and such. It’s always been politely framed and I never felt pressure, about it but there feels like an expectation of a particular end point, and not everyone enjoys that end point not being present.
@dreamofeden I thought there was an option to crush on him from afar for a while, like when he puts the disguise makeup on you? This tells me that I need to replay to check… But I am very willing to make that sacrifice
I think so but like, if you do romance him, you’re at least married by the opera/stage performance which is in the first half-ish of the second “arc” so maybe the first half follows same beats as a slow burn but the slow burn bit resolves fairly early on in the whole timeline of the story and is overshadowed by post marriage drama so maybe that’s why it never registered as slow burn. I can def see aspects of slow burn but my brain has never really made the connection until you mentioned it.
One thing I forgot to say earlier, I think, and my head is currently a mess so I can’t even be sure to which it might be a response, but:
My major draw is that I can choose how fast I want to progress. I mean, I like for MC to take things slow, but I don’t like when the game forces it so (unless the RO is established as demisexual in which case, fair). I just… want the characters to set the pace, and not circumstance?
Agreed. I don’t want four romance options where they are : “the fastest one, the second fastest one, the slow one, and the one that takes the entire series to get.”
That’s not a situation where you have four different LIs, that’s a situation where you have four different romance plots. In this case, the MC’s choices and desires don’t mean shit, because nothing will happen until the LI decides it will happen. Then, perhaps, the MC will have the option of going for it now or later, but the MC becomes entirely reactionary, with no actions influencing the connection between them and the LI.
I don’t like it when the MC is a passenger in the romance story, with no ability to affect things or make them happen quicker (only more slowly). It’s too passive. Even where the LI has reason to move slower, there should be things to prompt a realization or trigger a overwhelming desire in the LI to make a move faster.
I broadly agree, though there’s balance to be had - if the MC is given all the agency to control the speed of things, the NPC can feel flat or like a passenger at best, and it can have uncomfortable implications at worst. But that balance can be achieved with writing thoughtfully and showing all characters involved as people with their own desires.
Thinking about it more, I think they definitely work the best when you sorta fake them by just starting the game in the middle of it where the MC already knows the character and has history.
The aforementioned A Study in Steampunk does this with the MC and Finch, and the Fallen Hero games do this with Ortega and Steel, and they’re probably the best ones out of all the CoG games. Done right, this kind of thing gives the feeling of resolving that long will-they-won’t-they arc without the need to spend the entire game setting that up.
I agree completely. It’s about balance. Stay true to the characters, and let them have their own desires, quirks, love language (I honestly think this one gets ignore too much!), and general emotional or physical pace. At the same time, allow opportunities for the MC to speed things up or slow them down, because the MC has their own desires, quirks, love language, and general emotional and/or physical pace.
Like in real life, things can happen that make force a character’s hand quicker than other things. That’s basically what I’m getting at here.
As I said above, I think authors don’t make enough use of love languages for tension-building and obstacles. That is often a huge deal for people, whether they realize it or not. And, although, we all tend to enjoy more than one type of love language, people typically have a single one that means more to them than the rest. Others may only feel connected and secure when the one they love gives them that single type of love that they desire.
If you take someone whose main love language is words of affirmation and you stick them with someone who wouldn’t say “I love you” or give other types of supportive dialog to let them know they care, there will be trouble. The one who needs that type of thing will end up feeling insecure or anxious over the relationship.
Likewise, if you take someone whose love language is physical touch, and you put them with someone who never touches them (and is touch averse), then the person will feel as though something is missing. Take a demi-sexual MC and put them with a singularly touch-oriented LI, and you have a very slow-building, angst-filled romance you can create.
Oftentimes, I see in these games that the LIs have a desire for a certain type of love language, but just kind of shrug and go with the flow when the MC doesn’t give it to them. That’s a missed opportunity to give the slowburn lovers exactly what they desire while leaving it so that those who want to make a character that specifically fits that LI are able to move it along at a a quicker pace.
Like that video you suggested said, it should be more about chemistry than checking a box and letting it move along when the boxes are checked. If the chemistry is right, and enough things click, no matter how slowly someone has been accustomed to moving, a little explosion can kickstart it on its way. Similarly, no matter how quickly someone is used to moving, with the right chemistry–and enough real problems to slow them down–it can work.
Yes, the player can “game” the system by intentionally building an MC that breezes through the romance (for the most part–I think there should still be outside sources of tension, since facing problems together helps the ones in love grow even closer), but that shouldn’t be an issue. Then, both the MC and LI have an active role in things, while still staying true to the characters and giving players the type of story they want for their MC.
Agreed, I do think there’s a lovely amount of personalisation that can be had from thinking about how an NPC would love to be wooed and what a PC’s instincts or preferences are, and the different tones that can arise when they match. or if they don’t match, and how characters navigate it! maybe they aren’t suited and part ways or maybe it can help build the connection because they’re communicating about each other’s wants and needs. I watched that video properly today and really enjoyed it! It’s giving me a lot to think about with planning out varied romance structures and keeping things feeling fresh.
As with every story, I would like to get to know the other characters and how they interact with the PC and the environment-at-large. I need to have certainty and a good sense of where the relationship is heading. In my opinion, probably the best kind of slowburn romance is when you get to know a person, spend some time with them professionally, and then decide if you are going to spend more time developing it and going beyond the professional level. Even better is when one encounters a problem, and the other helps them to solve said problem. Backstory like knowing more about a character’s past is also helpful. And I want to see the story through both people’s lenses. Then again, “slowburn romance” is an ambiguous and potentially loaded term.
I knew I should have stayed out of this thread. Because I have a great idea, it’s made me want to write and I know I can’t handle the coding.
What’s the idea? That sounds intriguing!
A solely romance and friendship focused book, first off, just to get that out of the way. Barebones plot is basically a situation where an actress (lead actress) on a show that’s never had the popularity it should have recruits a childhood/adolescent (MC) “friend” that she used to model with for a part newly written on the show. MC is…ambivalent to say the least about acting, and a lot of the pressures that come with it. Actress and her male lead are presented as an actual couple to try and boost the show’s popularity, and an older character is brought back in to try and boost the show’s popularity or at least get eyes on it again because of the “scandal” he left under. They have to somehow work together as a cast and because they’re on location for the duration of the shooting of the show (have to keep things secret, after all) they’re all cooped up in a house together, even away from the majority (only the majority) of the supporting cast. MC falls for one of either castmates, crew or production people. (Ignore my stated genders, MC and ROs will all be selectable.)
Love interests would be:
Lead Actress: Something happened in their friendship in the past to damage or break it, and it’s possible to go one of four general directions with the actress; stay as you are, worsen the relationship, repair the friendship, turn to romance (which will have to involve repairing the friendship.) However, if you’re going to romance her, you’re going to have to get past her antipathy to you, which is why the friendship has to be repaired first. Whatever happened, she’s hurt and angry enough to be spitefully inviting you into what she knows is intended to be the “heinous bitch” role when she knows both that you’re hard up and need the job/money and that you have always been leery of going into acting.
Lead Actor: Clueless about why Lead Actress dislikes you, but has known, been friends with and worked closely with her for years. Will always immediately take her side before even investigating. Only slight troubles, not very “tabloid interesting,” the only other “clean” member of the cast. BIG nerd in his free time. Wanted to be an engineer but couldn’t handle the math or science, his aunt started him in acting in commercials.
A Producer: Will be a slightly emotionally abusive option, mostly because of the power imbalance. The kind of person who thinks they’re not a bad guy while even other bad guys are trying to warn people away. Pretty much blind to any emotions or needs that don’t suit their needs at the time. Divorced from two wives, about to be left by the pregnant third.
Wardrobe/Hair/Makeup person (don’t know which yet, honestly): Supportive, but can get heavy handed with it, in a way that doesn’t feel sincere. Will get sarcastic if called on it. Feels a bit inferior and has a bit of attention jealousy. Will be clingy if pursued. Has a large family, and they are the primary pushback for this RO:
Disgraced Actor: After a sex and alcohol related scandal, DA was fired from the show, to much fan loss from the show. But as it saved the show itself, Producer felt she had no choice but to fire them. Still struggling with the alcoholism after five years sober, but reluctant to remind his castmates of his fall from grace. Tries, sometimes too hard, to be the person he thinks he should be. Only person who really knows what it’s like to be torn apart by the press and terrified that a further secret will be revealed. Not as closed off as he thinks, but more reluctant to trust than he’d like.
The MC is in a tight enough spot to accept Lead Actress’ reaching out with the job opportunity for the same reason that the friendship has enough distance to potentially repair the damage. She had to stop working as a model and return home to care for an ailing (early onset Alzheimer’s if I can write the flashbacks convincingly) parent and her younger siblings. Now that parent has died and sibling is off to their first year of college and MC can finally do something about the medical debt (and now university debt) that the family’s racked up. She NEEDS the job and has had so little luck finding any employment that she’s desperate enough to put aside any qualms and take it at face value. The very last thing on her mind is falling for someone.
ETA: Realised I left something out. Poly routes available for Lead Actress, Lead Actor and Producer but not for Hair/Wardrobe/Makeup or Disgraced Actor. Sorry to anyone who felt they were being left out/disregarded.
Nothing you mentioned is interesting for me, but I love slow-burn romances. I should qualify that by defining the terms as I see them.
Most romances require you to be invested in the relationship basically immediately. If you aren’t professing your undying love to the LI you just met within a few pages of them walking into the story, you’ve lost your chance. Perhaps I’m being unfair and associating most romances with “whirlwind” romances, but in my experience with games that is how it goes.
A slow burn romance takes its time, lets you get into the story and events and get to know the LI, see them in action, figure out what their personality and goals and such are and how they compare to other characters and how they align with your own, and importantly vice-versa.
I’m demisexual so perhaps that informs my thoughts on things, but basically the allure is that I have time to develop a mutual respect and emotional attachment with a character before deciding to pursue them romantically, rather than deciding I want to be with this LI I just met based on first impressions or having a LI fall in love with me the moment they meet me.
I think any game that isn’t exclusively a dating game should have enough going on in the plot that you and the LI’s should be, you know, living your lives and doing things? Maybe you would have that fall under “external factors pushing you apart”, but I feel like if I’m trying to take back the throne that was stolen from my family when my parents were deposed by the evil chancellor, I can’t just drop everything to explore my feelings with the interesting and attractive stranger I just met. So just by the nature of time not bending to our own whims and the fact that getting to know someone takes time, slow burn romances are the only ones that feel right to me.
I have to ask, is this just a random example or does that game exist? I want to play it.
I was trying to be vague and general about it but I was definitely thinking about Arcadie: Second-Born when I wrote that.
I love how they react, like in first meet they like
“Who the hell are you”
Then in the end after some intimate time they are like
“Come here and hugs me”
I actually finished playing The Night Market last night. It’s a twine IF but let me just say, I really enjoyed Belladonna’s romance. Sweet God Almighty, I was enraptured by her beauty, her presence, and the fact you had to chase her down. She fallout rejects you more than once despite obviously feeling some type of way about you. Not sure if confessing your interest in the RO only to be turned away for the time being counts as a slow burn, but Belladonna makes you put in some serious work up until the end and you get some serious payoff for your efforts.
Also, it helped that she really made me feel some type of way about a RO that I haven’t felt in a long time: legitimately attracted to her and her character.