What makes you fall in love? (with an NPC)

Oof time for the Forum to find out my weird interests in certain romance tropes.

I find myself immediately reading routes for NPCs that challenge my MC, is stoic, hates my MC(I know I’m a glutton for punishment).

So like Moraki from the Soul Stone Wars is one I like because he is flirty and responds to my MCs flirts and teasing and isn’t afraid to give it back. Makernol is another route I love cuz of the soulmate plot line that he kinda fights.

Another one is Mason from Wayhaven because the MC and Mason have that immediate physical attraction/connection but his dislike of being committed makes it a challenge for my MC to get him to admit he likes her for more than just a booty call.

When Triana Academy did the revamp of their demo I was kind of surprised to see my interest in NPCs change with the new demo. For the first demo I liked Vin and Raven right off the bat and I still like them as characters but with the new change I find myself more interested in reading how the relationship with Matthew[and what a great surprise his route is :eyes:] and Flay will progress with the MC.

Now for the darker/niche romance tropes: I do find like darker, villainous, tragic backgrounds, make me question what will happen to the MC if they were with this NPC is stories I like too.

There’s some great WiPs that do that like the writer for A Broken Ever After has some great WiPs that have characters that fall under ‘I shouldn’t want to be with this NPC but it’s too intriguing to stop’ kinda mindset.

I don’t think there’s any NPC I wouldn’t read though but slow burn romances kind of make me a Lil insane. Like Adam from Wayhaven checks all the boxes for NPCs I like but it’s such a slow burn romance and I’m just reading it with “Kiss the Girl” from Little Mermaid playing in my head the whole time. :sneezing_face:

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Thanks so far to everyone who has given me such thoughtful answers. You’ve given me a lot to think about. One thing this makes me realize is that it’s really hard to do analysis of specific moments of the text because it’s not easy to get hold of the exact passage. It’s not like flipping to a particular stanza of a poem in a book. Which is a shame, because I really want to dig into the actual mechanics of the actual word choice and images and think about how they are put together.

The moment with Finch and the touch of his hand on your face was an amazing example, not only the sensory-ness of the image, but also the way the text plays with that, making it both an intimate moment and a practical moment of disguise. I have to try to dig up more such examples. The downside of our medium is that it’s hard to do serious lit crit of it because it’s hard to get at the actual text.

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I’m doing some research on my discord asking for screenshots, I will relay the results. This is interesting.

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Agreed, and something else that also affects the applicability of in-depth analysis is how contextual these discussions are, more so than in linear literature. While both mediums are subject to the lens created by personal experience and individual history, IF must also contend with different player paths.

There isn’t a single set narrative that one points to follows through, there are certain conditions that must be met to see certain passages that kind wildly differ the way one sees a character or storyarc.

Going back to A Study In Steampunk, two readers can have wildly different views of Finch and his fake death depending on which branch one takes in the midpoint.
A player who stayed with Woodward’s Irregulars can have the option to storm out of the office in response to this ruse, getting a scene where Finch expresses just how desperate he is to have his life with you back to the way it was. He acknowledges how unfair it was to keep you in the dark about his survival, and well and truly apologizes for his part in your suffering.
Whereas a player who joins the Free Mercia movement will be confronted by Finch, who absolutely cannot believe that you would defect, that you would change while he was, well, dead. And while he gives a passing acknowledgement that he may (yes, he says may) have caused this, he says this in his usual Finch-y way where…he’s kind of a dick about it, lol. It can really alter one’s perception of him into being more callous and less emotional about what’s happened than is actually the truth, if what he expresses on the bridge scene is to be taken as his true thoughts (which I believe they are).

So discussions on Finch, on any character who the player’s perception can be significantly altered depending on player choice, is going to require a hell of a lot more context just to get on the same page.

Which I love, but damn if it isn’t time-consuming, lol.

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Ok so, from MY experience as a reader, there are three key words: Consistent, Recognizable, Unpredictable.

Allow me to explain: knowing a character doesn’t mean knowing what they’re going to do, but knowing how they think. I’m going to share an example: V from Triaina academy. That’s a character I absolutely love and yet I don’t see as a romantic option in the slightest. The way they live is very complex in the way it makes them think, yet extremely easy to follow for the reader.

This doesn’t mean a character can’t have a tragic backstory or complex psychology, on the contrary, the more there is to know about them the better (although semplicity is also awesome when done right) but it’s not about how complex the character is, it’s about how well (not how easily, just how well) the reader can pinpoint what makes that character "that specific character".

This does not automatically make said character predictable, just recognizable. for example, the character could do something I wouldn’t expect them to do, but since I can pinpoint what makes them them so easily, by the way in which they are doing said unpredictable thing, I’m still gonna go: “Yep, that’s -insert NPC- right there, that’s my buddy being themselves over there, just good ol’ NPC doing something I would have never thought they would do!”

Of course, there also are other factors like how likeable they are, how sympathetic etcetera, but these basic factors with the addition of these three key words are what, at least for me, make them memorable and a pleasure to be around even in a non-romantic way! : D

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Okay, I have some outside data here because I was curious myself. NOTE, this is all Fallen Hero based since I asked in the discord, and some of the exerpts are from the Retribution Beta, so very out of context spoilers.

Like here, a lot of people were talking about different scenes things in general, but I did get some exact screenshotted/copypasted moments.

These are scenes and snippets that made people fall in love with my NPCS:

Marshal Steel (Wei Chen)

ro11

ro8

ro5

Ortega (Julia/Ricardo)

ro6

It was the scream that did it, Ortega leaping over the wreck, worry written on his face. It was the first time you had really seen him scared You remember him struggling to lift the wreck so you could pull free, and the nervous smile of relief once you managed to get to your feet.

You remember him looking at you as if you had come back from the dead. You remember assuring ${him} that you were fine, while the blood kept running down your leg. You remember him frowning a little, as if he were second-guessing himself. You remember him reaching out, almost gingerly, to touch your cheek. To roll up your mask a little.

You remember not moving. You remember letting him do it.

You remember him kissing you for the first time.

Fuck, you remember him kissing you.

“Tobias?” Ortega has her hands on your shoulders. You realize you must have thrown yourself off the chair, since you’re sprawled on the floor. The room is spinning, and you feel the nausea curling in your stomach.

“I’m fine.” You cough, trying to ignore the fact that there are specks of blood on your hand where you covered your mouth.

“Like hell you are.” Ortega tilts your chin up in a move that would have been infuriating if you weren’t already nursing the worst kind of hangover.

Was Lady Argent right? Does she really care about you that badly?

She never did before. You were friends. Just friends. Even if you wanted to be more.

“I’ll be fine,” you say, pulling back from her hands. “She just has very strong mental defenses. Whoever did this to her was good.” Again, not a lie, as it is dangerous to lie to people like this. Far better to skirt the truth.

Herald (Daniel Sullivan)

Lady Argent

“Oh really?” you say, offering her your hand. “Then let me be your escort for the evening.”

“That’s not funny.” Lady Argent doesn’t make a move to take it.

“It’s not a joke.” You pull it back, pretending that wasn’t the least bit awkward.

“So you’re serious?” She crosses her arms and glares at you.

“I suppose it’s a bit hard to tell beneath the helmet,” you admit. You know you have the same problem with her right now.

“Then take it off,” she suggests, stepping closer.

“Says the woman in the horned helmet.” You lean in a little closer yourself. “I like my anonymity.”

“I wish I knew what that felt like.” She runs a gloved finger along the edge of your mask.

“True,” you admit, “silver skin is not the most discrete.” She’s worse marked than you in that regards, you at least can hide your inhumanity beneath your clothes. Of course the biggest difference is that she actually is human, and a hero. Nobody is coming to lock her up just for existing.

“Stop being nice,” she snarls, but she doesn’t step back. “I don’t need you to patronize me.”

“I’m not patronizing you,” you say, and to your surprise you actually mean it.

“I guess it’s fine then,” she reluctantly admits.

“Does that mean you accept my invitation?” You offer her your arm, hopefully a little smoother this time.

“I was here before you,” she snaps, but this time she accepts the arm. “Where to?”

“Where else,” you laugh, leading her through the door. “The auction.” It’s hard to ignore how right this feels, but you do your best.

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Good question I’d have to say Ro’s from wayhaven
I like romance that developed over time
I’m a massive video gamer so the let downs I don’t usually get to see is actually time in a relationship
I hate to see romances like fable were they can love you instantly with little to no effort I like to see dedication, Also time from both partners

I like mysterious it makes you focus on that character to learn more about them never make them an open book that’s what draws me in.
I like the fire with characters that one’s that are hard to get like Adam from Wayhaven that man kills me
I enjoy the dating games WIP but it’s too easy I’d like to see them put more effort into stuff people can lean that not everything should be easy in a choice game it’s a romance not a fling.
Honestly I like characters with sad backstories that make sense and are well thought out.

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Uh for me I guess the thing that makes me interested for my MC, not me(I’m demisexual and well romance is okay but not really for myself for a long time) to the RO is the characterization and how the RO complements the MC.

Uh say Kent from Mind Blind. He’s not a one dimensional character who’s just stoic and broody. He’s shy at times, he’s sarcastic, he loves his dogs and Greek myths. You have to earn their trust. Also, he’s not a Ment(people who can read minds) and that’s a thing that I want for my MC. It’s gives Button(the MC nickname) some normality bc so many people can read their minds and they want a slice of normal

Also with Glitch from Mind Blind. Theyre funny, they like to make jokes, they love poetry, they love tech, but they want people to be honest with their feelings, to be authentic. They’re not one dimensional and I’m so happy with that. And they complement the MC whos sarcastic, copes with their trauma with humor, and needs help opening up.

Its the stuff we learn about them that makes me interested in choosing that path with them as a RO.

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My two cents:

There are four factors to “making” a person fall in love

  1. Discovery - (literally) meeting them and discovering who they are, a person who is distinct from who “I” am as the MC (setting up the MC’s personality is a far more difficult task because it’s complicated by my own interpretation of who “I” am mixed with how the MC is presented)

  2. Spending time together - This can be either in the form of talking or doing things together, or both. But you need to spend at least a little time together before you “fall in love.”

  3. When apart, you miss them - This is the period where you realize that your life is more fun/exciting/romantic when you’re with Person X than when you’re not with them.

  4. Courtship - The trickiest part of any romance because it involves one or both people (or more in a polyamorous situation) saying or doing something to indicate their interest in the other person, ratcheting up these indicators until they are no longer deniable.

The “courtship” phase is also difficult because some people wanted to be courted, while others want to do the courting, and still others want it to be a give-and-take mutual courtship.

Lastly, it should not be overlooked that the external environment plays a huge role in creating opportunities to “fall in love”, not just the intentions/actions/words/desires of the MC or RO.

Think of how a “just the two of us stuck in this temporarily non-working elevator” scene can promote romance. Or your friend setting you up on a blind date, etc, etc.

Summary: If you meet someone who is clearly different than you are (i.e. not your sibling), get to spend some time with them, and have a lot of fun when they’re around, you’re halfway to falling in love.

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I don’t know how helpful my response will be. I don’t consider myself aromantic but I definitely scale that direction. However stories feel less human without some type of RO. So for me the romance portion of the RO is less important than the effect on the MC.

As a bad example. Years ago when I was first exploring IF I played a Japanese game. I don’t remember the name, but the mc had a bad heart and got into unhealthy relationships with various girls who had different disabilities. My first playthrough I dated a double amputee track star. And I thought it was great so tried again with a different girl only to hate the game with a passion. In a rare moment of clarity I realized I didn’t dislike the second girl so much as I disliked who my mc was with her.

This is also why I loved A’s path in the first Wayhaven and not as much in the second. Interactive fiction is unique in that the author has to try to build several possible romances into each one.

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Usually any RO who gives me attention :rofl: usually my initial interest is not who I end up with. Depends on the game.

Bookmarked this thread to follow later on when developing my ROs more :wink: with that being said, how in depth do you like your interactions to be with ROs? Is it suitable to leave some things up to the readers imagination or does that take away from your “feelings,” toward the RO?

There are some games that do a great mixture of both. Of course getting to know backstory or feelings of the RO helps create that bond. But with undertaking actually writing choicescript it seems to be a tedious task :rofl: maybe that’s just me though :man_shrugging: I tend to go for the broken yet strong ROs with something to prove to themselves and the world.

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For what it’s worth, I like that there’s someone like me also replying to this thread! Don’t know exactly how much my personal disconnect with romance has affected how I view these games and their characters, though.

To answer the main topic: Ironically, I prefer ROs who are characters and not “romance options”, i.e. those who are present just to be pursued and be loved. Maybe they’ll have a side plot or notable scenes you can reach without romancing them, but it is obvious from the get-go that its platonic variants are an afterthought. In these cases, I end up feeling like I missed a good chunk of the story if I don’t adhere to playing it the way I was “supposed” to. :woman_shrugging: Admittedly, this is more of an issue outside of CoG. *cough*Pixelberry*cough*

I see that A Study in Steampunk has been brought up, and Grace has been dismissed. However, I would say that the scene where you had to decide between letting her die with her principles or saving her but she’ll end up leaving is what made her my favourite RO in that game. Grace did not leave her fate, as it were, for us to decide but took it into her own hands. I want to say this moment of character agency is what made her memorable, and I guess I did “fall in love” in a sense.

Similarly, on a lighter (just a smidge, but still) note, Haze’s scene atop the Roman wall in Chapter 6 of Tally Ho also completely changed my view of him and the tropes I usually associate with ROs like him. “You don’t understand the first thing about me, and I choose not you.” is a quote that stuck with me still.

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When a love interest expresses affection towards the MC - whether consciously or unconsciously romantic, or stated outright - it’s such a nice moment. I love all the Heart of the House romances and I think it’s a masterpiece of interactive romance, but Dev being established very early on as a potential romance and it being very clear that you’re the centre of his attention, was such a cool surprise as a player.

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So atm I’m keeping an eye on the Wayhaven thread but avoiding spoilers (I don’t have enough time to read and faint at every romantic scene before work :sob:), and while skimming I thought of something else that I really love seeing that makes me :eyes: an RO/NPC is when they express an interest in my MC.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be, like, verbal affirmation (if a picture is worth a thousand words, then body language is a Greek epic) and I’m especially receptive to scenes in an RO’s POV where they think about the MC the way Unit B does in Wayhaven. Love that. :kissing: :ok_hand:

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I don’t know if this is of any use for anyone, but in the hopes it might be useful to know -

I don’t exactly have an answer to that. It can be a thousand different things. A big one that makes me immediately click with a character (NPC and MC! This is not limited to ROs) is when they remind me of my own characters… which obviously isn’t something anyone could prepare for :sweat_smile: but otherwise, usually the ”it” is something in the interactions between the character and the RO, or the RO’s personality, and how well that relates to my MC… which as of itself is not a fixed shape. Some of the times, it’s simply that the character feels interesting in some way, or is funny in the way that fits my sense of humor.

So… just make interesting characters I guess?

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Do you like it before or after your MC’s have expressed interest in them? I know some people find it off-putting when the NPCs are the ones to initiate the flirting with the MC?

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Me personally, I enjoy when NPCs express an interest even before.

I would also enjoy when an NPC expresses an interest based off of my MC’s stats, though I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game implement that. It’s understandable given that it could be hard to make a clearly defined MC that early into a game (when characters are being introduced), but I think that games with character creators, or that allow you to establish your personality and stats prior to meeting the ROs, could implement this to great effect!

In my opinion.

Like you said, not everyone will want this, and I understand that I’m very…particular about my preferences, lol.

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i think about this sometimes, too. i think this is a really good idea. in the same vein, the NPC taking an interest in your MC’s actions and deeds. it doesn’t always have to be love at first sight or anything, either, so they can always develop an attraction to your MC in a scene later on after you’ve established more of a dynamic and personality for them. i’d kind of like to try this actually

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Okay, so here is a weird one for me.

I could list the various RO’s I’ve liked throughout my CoG/HG history, or talk about the tropes I like. But, I tend to be fairly approving of most. Most of the characters I play are self-inserts, or at least idealised versions…

So, it’s actually easier to talk about what turns me away from an RO.

One specific type is the ‘childhood friend type who has always loved you’.
I don’t like this because it means that the love this RO has for me is something that happened when I wasn’t in control of the character, since most of these games take place during young adulthood. This isn’t to say I don’t like childhood friend RO’s, but I want the formation of the romance to be something I caused, not just lucked into because of the story. If that makes sense?

Example, in Werewolves: Haven Rising: Dena is a good character and RO, but getting smacked in the face early with knowledge that you think she might be into you no matter what you’ve done up to that point (I’m assuming, sorry. Didn’t go through this with a fine tooth comb) makes the other romance options for me much more interesting.

This is also part of the ‘we used to date, but now we don’t’ RO’s, unless I get to to choose why we dated. If the story just said, hey you were in this relationship before and now she’s an (almost always adversarial) option. I’m turned off. I need to at least have some kind of lip-service choice as to why the character chose to have this relationship previously.

I guess both of these actually illustrate part of what I really like seeing in my RO’s. That they react to the choices I make, and more specifically… that I don’t have to be an exact character archetype for them to fall for me. This makes them, and the story feel more real. I understand the ‘no way, dude… you killed that town’ sort of relationship enders, though.

Example, in Wayhaven: M works because they start off very physically interested, but not emotionally invested. But a soft-spoken, gentle, kind person is just as capable of having a relationship with them as a hotheaded, lusty, sarcastic one… and you are rewarded for seeing both. Just a heads up, I’m totally repping A-mancers, though.

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I’m really happy you said this because I’m writing a game now where you go on a series of dates, and every NPC/RO reacts to you based on your actions, and each NPC has their own preferences.

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