exactly thank you, my question was rhetorical
I haven’t come across many authors talking about, but I’m curious about setups where there’s a mix of selectable or locked genders for romanceable characters, like Wakefield and Jess in the Deathless games, and Reaves in Heart of the House. I would dearly love to hear from authors who do this and learn about the thoughts behind it, mostly because it’s not something I’ve done myself. And for players, does this make a difference in which love interest you go for?
I sometimes write set romantic interests because there are specific stereotypes or tropes I’d like to twist and corrupt within my story.
The Deathless games do this quite well, in my opinion.
I don’t really know how they do it either. I did have two gender selectable characters in my notes, in an effort to make them more gender balanced. One of them, immediately as soon as I typed in selectable M/F/NB, I was like “No. That’s wrong. This character is definitely male.” Another is still in the notes as selectable male/nonbinary, but that feels off because I know that character is both, not selectably one or the other. Gender balance may really be the only reason they do it?
As a player though, it makes no difference to me. I always select male whenever possible and sometimes don’t even know which characters are selectable.
+1 to this. Doesn’t matter whether they’re locked as male or selectable as male; it really just comes down to how they’re written, and whether they’re interesting to me.
I might have mentioned it in the past but when I toyed with doing a WW2 French Resistance game I had this idea for an RO that would be an entirely different character based on whether the reader preferred male or female romances - they would be introduced in similar situations but would be otherwise quite different. Not sure how easy that would be to code but I liked the idea at the time. Not sure if anyone has done anything similar before or since.
I feel that would likely be just two different exclusive ROs who just happen to share some traits (or however you’re thinking about it). I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea at all, I just worry it would just functionally end up as two different characters that might as well be their own thing. But, assuming you’re going this way, I do like the idea of exploring a character and how they’d differ if everything but gender was the same (in a world where there’s distinct cultural gender roles, as that would be).
Like for example, a character that’s kinda aggressive and headstrong, so as a man they would be able to release such feelings easily (even encouraged to do so), but as a woman societal pressure would’ve lead them to bottle it up, possibly leading them rebelling and being very progressive, in contrast to the more conservative man who never had issues with society and as such no reason to fight against it. Just an exploration of the idea, at least how I have it in my head.
To add, I don’t believe it has been done before but while I have played almost all WIPs, I haven’t played all, so I totally could’ve missed it.
Aren’t most of the games already like that and the variable gender ROs are a very recent trend?
Out of earlier games I remember gender-swappable LIs in Mecha Ace and first Heroes Rise game. I think they’ve gained prevalence over set gender games - most newer games feature gender-swappable LIs.
I would really love to collate data on this! That’s my instinct too. I’m not sure if that’s just based on my assumptions but as far as CoG releases go, last year there were maybe three games with exclusively gender-selectable romances and one of them was mine. I’m not sure about the recent HGs but in HC, Heart of Battle has entirely selectable romances.
As I was reading this thread I was wondering why no one brought up stories like this. My WIP has a mix of set gender and sexuality as well as adaptive sexualities and gender. For the most part it comes down to ‘does it change the character’s (the NPC’s) personal story? Does it change the MC’s story?’. If it does not in either case, I don’t mind having an adaptable RO option. Then there is a bit of me trying to balance options for people. I don’t want more straight then gay or pan options.
There are characters that I feel just would not be right if the gender were to be selected. One of the characters are based on the Celtic god Lugh. Having the character have an option to be female would feel like a disservice to the character; I’m not going for a Fate/Stay Night gender-bending feel to the game. There is another character who later the reader is find out is going through things because of social constraints. It’ll add drama to the character in sequels (if I write them) but will be true the to character. I could not do their story if they were adaptable.
Meanwhile, a lot of my WIP’s other RO are more about the role they play in the story. Once again, if it is not affecting the MC’s or RO’s story then I am fine with making it adaptable.
To be honest, if I’ve ever made a WiP, I’d go for set gender solely because I’m lazy and it’s easier to write four different characters than code in gender changes through code.
Yes i prefer if all ROs are set to female.
I’m straight, so I almost always romance female ROs instead of the male ones. The only thing I’d be concerned about regarding optional romances in one with set genders is if there’s an even amount of ROs of both genders and that they’re playersexual so I don’t get forced to change my gender just to romance them. Sometimes a writer might have a specific gender and/or sexuality they want to do with a character for the sake of doing something specific with them and that’s fine, but I prefer not getting locked out of any romances with a character that’s able to interest me just because of my gender. So if a female or male RO is into the same gender as themselves, I usually don’t romance them. I’m someone who generally prefers playing as male. Anyway, regarding male ROs, if they’re able to interest me enough I may still romance them as a male (Like Gabriel from the Breach series, he needs the love) but I prefer female ROs, so depending on if they manage to catch my interest and if there’s as many females to romance as males and if you can just go for anyone regardless of your own gender, I don’t care if their genders were already set.
As a player, I would much prefer if the ro didn’t have a set sex/gender and I could pick.
I’m bi, so I like to mix the genders of the characters a lot. Like, if I want this person to be a fem, they’ll be fem, and vice versa. Or if I was in the feeling of prefering men than woman on that day(and vice versa).
Everytime there’s a game that has set character genders, I avoid it for most of the time. There are a few that I stayed because the characters themselves or the story/plot was just so good that I wanted to stay and play.
Honestly, I kind of do wish there was more of games that allow you to choose the sex/gender of ro’s, because I find it hard. I prefer buff/strong woman, however a lot of games don’t have that sort of option of a buff woman as a set character except Path of Martial Artisit. A lot of times the woman are a bit meek or elegant. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s my preferences😅. So when there’s a buff/strong set male ro, I sometimes cry inside and wish they were a lady instead.
Ah, enough ranting! You get my point😅
I play any game if the concept/pitch interests me enough.
On a different note, I think I have given my opinion on this before in the forum somewhere, but I don’t really like how some people look at a set gender/orientation as making the character more in depth or legitimate. I feel like unless those aspects play a large part in the characters experience, mindset, or story, it doesn’t do anything. Stuff like morals, personality, goals, and actions are the things that make a character more memorable and in depth to me. Its all about how the character is written for me and gender/orientation locking just gives me less options for my particular MC at the time.
I’m not an author, but I can understand how writing a character as a certain gender or orientation may be easier (especially for romance specific scenes) since you may already have the character pictured in your head as a certain thing, but I think its worth having gender flippable ROs so players can create the character they want and not be forced to settle for whichever RO is available to them. Like even when the gender specific RO split is even…you still may not like your choices. This has unfortunately happened to me before but it may just be me. I know alot of people self-insert or if not fully insert, atleast want to be able to make their MC be attracted to the same gender as they are and locking alot of those people out would not be great to me especially with a feature like romance that is so popular that almost all stories here include even if it feels tacked on just to get more people to take notice of it.
If the character wouldn’t be totally destroyed with a gender flip I would say let them be flippable. A well written character does not have to rely on just one or two aspects in my opinion.
Another side note, I know its tons more work and I don’t blame writers who choose not to do it, but I love when they do go that extra mile to make “spicy” scenes variable and let you customize what “equipment” you have or what role you play (dom or sub) like in Heart of Battle and The Midnight Saga. It goes such a long way in my opinion and made those games more fun and unique by letting people get down how they wanted to. I hope more games do it.
Yup. Im A-okay about that. I’ve never wished that they could be a guy (bc im cis woman) if their gender/sexuality was incompatible with mine. I just automatically count them out of my romantic options or i don’t play at all if there wasn’t any guy ROs.
Well my MCs never have a fixed gender/sexuality so it won’t be a problem if the Ros already have a specific gender (even if it were selectable, I would just randomize them and choose whoever is more interesting anyway)
The only situation where I would find it strange is when there’s a lot more characters of a determined gender in comparison with the other - let’s say 2 female and 6 male. Other than that I’m fine
Personally, I much prefer player sexual ROs and usually don’t really think about their genders much at all when romancing them as it doesn’t really matter to me as much as who the character is. So if something had to be fixed I’d much rather it be the ROs gender.
Fixed sexuality on characters is okay for the most part but I’d prefer it in a game where the player character’s gender actually affects more than just the romance (such as ITFO’s system) or if their sexuality plays a large part in their overall route and that we the players get to experience their journey over the course of the game otherwise it just feels limiting in a format that is designed for player’s to have a choice in how a story unfolds.
All in all its just another thing an author may have to consider when deciding to write their games and what they think is best for their game.
I certainly see that making more explicit sex scenes is harder with gender selectable ROs. However, for what it’s worth, I don’t really think including explicit sex scenes is necessary for a COG/HG romance to be good. I do think there should be at least some kissing and similar kind of intimate scenes and I certainly don’t mind explicit sex scenes and descriptions. But for me the general “vibe” and that the COG or HG in question conveys a strong level of romantic intimacy is more important than whether there are actual explicit sex scenes included or not. And sometimes the build-up and intimate scenes that aren’t sexual as such, leave a much stronger impression than most sexual scenes. I think the build-up to the romance with Daelynn in The Soul Stone War was much sexier than the actual sex scenes and the romance and they also left a much bigger impression on me than the actual romance. And in the same way, the (possibly) surprise kiss by(in my playthroughs) Thea in the first book of The Lost Heir trilogy has left a much stronger impression than the majority of explicit sex scenes I’ve come over in COGs and HGs.
For me it’s surprisingly often that explicit sex scenes in COGs and HGs don’t really add much to the romance for me or even are low key disappointing. And this doen’t seem to have much, if anything to do with whether the RO in question is gender-locked or gender-selectable. Out of the four ROs who, to my mind, had the best more explicit(ish) sex scenes, two of them( Tiva from Werewolves and the gunwoman in your crew who I can’t remember the name of, was it Hayden?, from Breach) were gender-locked while two of them(O from the Evertree Saga and M from The Wayhaven Chronicles) were gender selectable. And I suspect that this is because, since you get to decide so much more in the story and interact so much more with it than you do in “regular” non-interactive literature, including erotica, you’ll tend to “headcannon” more different aspects about your relationship with an RO, including how you want the sexual relationship and its dynamic to be and that you get more invested in general in how those things play out, since you are in many senses, much closer to your character than you are in most non-interactive stories and then there’s also often a stronger sense of you=MC or MC=you than in most regular stories. Although of course, I could be an outlier, when it comes to this, I do suspect that it’s easier for more explicit sex scenes to be low-key disappointing or just “ok” to people reading HGs or COGs,whether your ROs are gender-locked or gender selctable, just because people will be more likely to have certain expectations in advance when it comes to what sexual scenes with their chosen RO(s) will be like.
So, if my views aren’t an outlier here, if finding it hard to make separate sex scenes for each gender version is the main thing standing in the way of making gender selectable ROs, I’d say it’s much more important to create a good vibe(romantically, sensually and could also be sexually/erotically without including any actual sexual acts) for each of the romances and creating a strong enough feeling of intimacy between the MC and the RO(s) in question than including explicit sex scenes. I still do think that the romances should include(as an option, anyway) kisses and/or other similar intimate acts that aren’t sexual as such, even if you don’t include any sexual scenes, but for those kind of scenes, you usually don’t have to worry much about differences between female and male anatomy or possible differences between gender and assigned sex at birth for the ROs in question. You could also go the route that Lucid did in The Lost Heir Trilogy and which Thom B used in the possible sexual scene with L in Sordwin, where you describe the “feel” of the sexual act, without going into any specifics about sexual positions or the particular sexual acts involved as such. AFAICT, this can be quite easily done without having to make any changes based on the ROs gender, outside of (probably) pronouns, which you will have to change in other non-sexual scenes as well, anyway.