@EvilChani I dunno, I don’t see how having a set gender ROs is relevant in this case. If anything, gender-swappable ROs would be more likely to fall into the bland, “tepid water” personality and, in my experience, that’s what tends to happen.
In a theory, I don’t have a preference for gender-selectable or set-gender ROs. In practice, I’ve noticed some… shenanigans in fandom when gender-selectable ROs are involved (one of the reasons I don’t engage much in fandoms) and even just some unconscious bias from the author which is inevitable. I’d still say I don’t mind either way of doing things, though. Just an observation.
That’s from a reader POV. As a writer, though, I only do set-gender ROs and my number one reason for that is… I don’t wanna code all that lmao. Literally, it’s just too much for me and my respect goes to the authors who are writing and have written entire games with gender-selectable ROs. That just couldn’t be me.
That being said, my secondary reason for not writing genders-selectable ROs (but it really is almost entirely the coding thing) is I do have a bias for male characters and I know that I do. I’m transmasc and I’m gay, so, in a lot of ways, male ROs just give me the Genders. I don’t want to change the male characters into female characters and I want to love my female characters as they are without thinking about how they could be men, too. When they’re set, they’re solidified in my mind and not changing and I don’t have to think about gender too much, they’re just themselves.
A bonus third reason is I also just think the traits I pick for female characters are more effective when they remain women. In my latest work (which isn’t on the forum yet) I have a femme Tall Lady and a masc Fit Woman and I think both of those won’t translate as appealingly if I just swapped them over to be men. In particular because I already write a lot of tall, butch men (can you guess my type?) so that’s what the male ROs are and I think the appeal of each individual character, male and female, will get all muddled and kind of… coalesce into a less defined cast if it were possible to have a cast of All Men or All Women. Tall Lady has already been a hit on tumblr in a way I don’t see happening were she gender-selectable.
Final thing I almost forgot to say, gender-selectable MC is important to me and I don’t really like gender-locked IF games, not even ones gender-locked to male. I do have future plans for MLM IF games because that’s important to me, but outside of those, I never want to arbitrarily lock MC’s gender and always want to give and be given the choice when possible.
It is a difficult question and I respect that you tried it. Coding such stuff must be hard and thus I understand why most writers elect to not show the sex since it doesn’t allow for easily variation of dialogue since M/F, F/M, M/M and F/F are not going to read the same way.
@FayI I really appreciate that Heart of Battle actually has you doing that, especially since you did have a reasonable number of varied ROs in the first place. As a straight male who feels that HC definitely doesn’t tend to feel much connections to most games (Jazz Age and Dawnfall only had one female RO each and whilst I enjoy both Pirates and NDAW as a female character…) so it’s great to see you make a quality game with the option of solid M/F content.
I was in a similar spot with one of the scenes in my game, where the RO answered the door either shirtless or in a short workout top (depending on m/f), then a choice whether the MC asked them to put a shirt on or not, then sub-top/sub-bot/dom-top/dom-bot options. It was a very variation heavy scene, but definitely worth it in the end.
I think both options are fine though honestly. Some writers have the gender of their RO be an integral part of their character, or they can’t imagine them as a different gender, or they just don’t want to write that much code; all of which are valid reasons.
To be fair, I wouldn’t characterise it as M/F content myself - they’re gender agnostic romances with personalised gender variable sex scenes to cater to player preference, including non-binary PCs and love interests (not just M and F) where I change anatomical language and descriptions to still be spicy while respecting NB identities.
That said, the fact that people can see it as M/F content (or F/F, NB/M etc) goes to show that at their hearts, people have the ability to take gender variable characters and see who they want to see, and that’s why I love writing them!
Well regardless you should be proud of it. I think there’s scope for both approaches and ultimately a mix of what the writers are comfortable with whilst also being prepared if able to create situations that they can not as easily relate to from their perspective as needed (in this instance I think having beta readers to determine whether certain types of characters read correctly cannot hurt).
I may be in the minority (haven’t read all the posts so I’m not 100% sure) but I do prefer immensely to have set gender NPCs. Gender selectability is fine if it isn’t the majority of ROs, but when it is I find I’m less invested. But romance in video games is a bit of a special interest for me, so I’m not typically approaching romance options from a place of attraction. I go more based off of story.
Honestly I think my only real pet peeve about gender selectable ROs is when either all of the characters are set to one gender as a result of a choice or you have to at each introduction choose for each character. It’s more of a preference thing but I’d love a randomization option if it has to be a choice each time.
That’s exactly my point of view. Predefined NPCs and RO tend to be better developed by authors, for obvious reasons.
I am not looking for stories tailored to my desires. What I’m prefer is to be surprised by the author and by extension the NPCs.
Hell yeah I would. Personally, easier to remember the names and you won’t end up confused about people bringing Daisy when they clearly mean Dandy, for example. Fair number of both, four being the golden number and you’re all set.
Generally with gender selectable ROs I end up imagining them a certain gender anyway. Hawkins from Mecha Ace is always a man for me, so is Weaver, I struggle with seeing Jun as a girl, most of LIs my characters end up with are men, so most gender-customisable LIs are men to me. My mind just can’t see them as something else, no matter how much it tries - Junko felt unnatural to me, for example, because I was so used to Jun.
I would, I don’t ever play as a straight mc just because I don’t really like it, but I’ve adapted so if the male ROs have better romance I can just play as a gay man, and vice versa but I do prefer gender selectable because I prefer playing a specific mc with specific ROs genders
what do you mean by that?
What vera means is that gender-variable RO’s usually have more than one name so sometimes there’s confusion in discussions with people who know only one of them.
most people only use the male name of a gender-selectable character when talking about them (dandy for example) so it’s confusing when someone talks about a daisy.
There is no canon gender for Dandy/Daisy, they’re bringing up Daisy cause they mean Daisy.
Not true, they usually use the first letter of the name like D for Daisy/Dandy, or A for Ava/Adam or if the name is gender neutral then just the first name or even last name. Unless they’re talking about the specific version they used in game.
And it’s just as confusing. Recently I’ve been reading opinions about Fenweh Saga and ROs there were referred to as W, I believe, Q and some other letters. It just felt weird seeing people profess their love to a single letter, it didn’t really feel like a character.
In terms of names, I’d go for unisex options if I’d ever make a book. There are a lot of options and it would mean not seeing a letter instead of a name and getting all confused.
I guess it depends on whether a certain kind of game suits characters with gender neutral names, since there’s often a limit to the amount of obvious ones (how many times has Alex been used). One could in theory do like Crème de Crème and have characters like Freddie who use a general nickname whilst having distinctive names whether male or female that are simply not used as much…
I think something akin to Freddie can work. In Russian there are gendered names that have unisex nickname versions - Alexander and Alexandra get turned into Sasha, Evgenyi and Evgeniya get turned into Zhenya.
Oh that’s a huge pet peeve of mine.
I talked about Wayhaven, Fallen Hero and other games with gender-changeable characters enough to quickly grow tired of saying A, B, C, D instead of more humanizing names, or constantly having to say “female Ortega” or “male Ortega” this and that. Why, it’s even worse if you speak about two games or WIPs like this at the same time.
It definitely affects conversation around the game and it doesn’t help with immersing yourself into thinking that these are real people with real emotions and goals when they don’t even have their own identity and when people discuss them - don’t have a name.
If we already bending something as vital to a person as gender to player’s whims, why stop there? They don’t need solid convictions or boundaries if they are inconvenient.
I often see very specific asks on tumblr, such as “Would x still be with MC if they don’t want children?”, you know, plenty of questions that would make or break a relationship and the answer for up to 10 planned ROs is always a resounding “Ofc, whatever MC is comfortable with”.
But in the end there’s still room for genderselectable RO’s, different games have different approaches and I enjoy these games. After all, it’s all in good fun, and these problems don’t have to be there if you just play along.
I do it, I just pick a gender (sometimes involves coin flipping) and ignore the choice for them to be a different gender from now on, treat the other version as fanfic - I suspect most people do that.
I just don’t think it should be a standard for IFs, because I’ve seen people expect gender changeable RO’s or RO’s that are playersexual or react with outrage if there are not exactly equal number of RO’s they can engage with based on their sexuality and preferences. It shouldn’t be expected of a dev to provide that.
The best way for me is just make four characters you can engage in romance with. Make it optional, no less satisfying than friendship or companionship, make it feel earned… I hate easy romances, I hate anything that comes easy. It just feels weird to worm yourself into a heart of a person solely because of three conversations.
There are also some gender-neutral names that just happen to be far more common for one gender or another, like Courtney.