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The Progression of Romance

Games with gameplay beside the story: raising your skills, map systems, life simulations, etc
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ChaosMorning
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The Progression of Romance

Postby ChaosMorning » Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:11 pm

Something that I've noticed in far too many video games with romantic (sub/)plots is that we see the protagonist and their love interest's relationship progress a bit too unrealistically.

Mainly in the sense that the relationship goes like this:
-Meet
-Interaction in a couple events
-Friendship/Rivalry ensues
-End of romance plot with either their first kiss, or cut straight to sex

Honestly, it's a bit too odd for me. I mean, most relationships would probably have a touch more dating and the first kiss far earlier in the relationship. It feels like a lot of games recently--not specifically games by Winterwolves alone, though more than a few of them follow this trend--

Now the whole 'the game ends with them kissing' is fine for some things--like, say, The Flower Shop games.
However, in Loren the Amazon Princess, the romance subplot didn't seem that great for some characters (Say, Mesphit. In his queer relationship with Saren, their subplot ended with the CG of the two, suddenly in their smallclothes and bandages on the ground at Everburn.)

I get that this can be justified in some cases, but I'd like to see a bit of a switch up in some of the upcoming games--say, Roommates and Nicole.

Roommates in particular, I'd like to see the relationship between the protagonist develop a bit more naturally since the game is supposedly very large and takes place over the course of the school year. With this opportunity I'd hope that the relationship between the protagonist and their love interest isn't so rushed...
Say, multiple dates, a first kiss or tryst occurring earlier in the game as opposed to the games conclusion. I think this would lend itself well to the plot, that way it wouldn't feel so based on the physical aspect of the relationship.

MarSel
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Re: The Progression of Romance

Postby MarSel » Sun Oct 07, 2012 2:42 pm

I second this idea!
I also feel the main point of the romances (in game) is a rush to the bedroom. Where in real life the first kiss or even sex can happen quickly but it's what happens afterwards that's the most important. e.g Marriage, kids, living together, spending alot of time together and so on (not necessarily in that order of course)

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jack1974
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Re: The Progression of Romance

Postby jack1974 » Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:06 pm

For Nicole I'm not sure since the art and storyboard has been done, even if is being rewritten.
For Spirited Heart 2 the writer suggested to have more events AFTER they marry - not sure if we'll add that yet considering each character is about 20k words on average, which means 120k words only for the base 6 characters. But I'd love to have that option.
For Roommates, that was the plan - several dates or even occasion to stay together (not necessarily an "official date") and towards the end of the game, they should be together and face the first difficulties of being engaged with a person, since some of them (like Isabella or Max) could have some problems :wink:

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ChaosMorning
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Re: The Progression of Romance

Postby ChaosMorning » Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:20 pm

Oh good, I'm glad to hear that Roommates will have that in mind.

It would be interesting, since I believe there was some mention of holidays, the two spending them together? Say, I dunno, visiting family on Thanksgiving or different "themed" dates/events.

Well, I'm excited for the game even more.

(Though if I may, having some characters get engaged at the game's end is a bit of a poor plot move--it's a more than a tad cliche, and since the characters are--to the extent of my knowledge--young university students, then planning to get married isn't a great plan. Moving in together off campus would seem like a better idea.)

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jack1974
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Re: The Progression of Romance

Postby jack1974 » Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:30 pm

ChaosMorning wrote:It would be interesting, since I believe there was some mention of holidays, the two spending them together? Say, I dunno, visiting family on Thanksgiving or different "themed" dates/events.

Thanksgiving and Christmas event are already done :wink: you'll be able to choose who to go with, with some limitation related to the plot, but it will be a good change of place/scenery. Also there will be Spring Break, with everyone wearing swimsuits :wink: I can already imagine some funny events happening there.

ChaosMorning wrote:(Though if I may, having some characters get engaged at the game's end is a bit of a poor plot move--it's a more than a tad cliche, and since the characters are--to the extent of my knowledge--young university students, then planning to get married isn't a great plan. Moving in together off campus would seem like a better idea.)

Yes well, I'm not much familiar with how it works in USA so will leave this decision to the writer :mrgreen: but he reads the forums so he knows about your suggestions.

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Aleema
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Re: The Progression of Romance

Postby Aleema » Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:07 pm

This is something I think about a lot.

In modern times, it's much easier to write things more "naturally" because modern times is our "natural." When it comes to period pieces, different cultures had different romantic norms. There's plenty of that don't-have-sex-until-marriage and don't-even-kiss-until-marriage and even what's-this-kissing-you-speak-of. Even right now in modern Japan, hugging someone is an extremely intimate act that is probably the equivalent of kissing somewhere else in the world (but then you have places like France, where kissing is just how you say hello). So when we experience romantic fiction of other cultures, the whole romance dynamic might be completely off to us. Humans didn't used to live so long way back when, so when you shared a single connecting moment with someone, you were in love and had to get married/have babies ASAP. Now, you get to be way more choosy. Then it differs per age ... teenagers have that same sort of extreme "THIS IS THE ONLY PERSON FOR ME, EVER. I WILL DIE FOR YOU," once they realize they like the same bands (or something else trivial). It's all so complex and really gets me thinking sometimes.

I also remember someone somewhere reminding us that "being in love is easy." It doesn't make much sense to have story after story of people slowly falling in love with each other and then suffering through a lot of obstacles before they finally admit their feelings to each other. Sometimes infatuation comes instantly. Sometimes you meet eyes with a person and just have raunchy sex and then get to know each other. Getting attached to people is extremely easy! It's the stuff that comes afterwards that's hard.

But then, is that fun to read? Since a lot of what makes people attractive to us is chemical-based or memory-based or just plain personal-taste-based, it's going to be hard to get everyone of your readers on board with immediate and everlasting love if THEY barely know the person. And then, it's sorta boring to read about everything going the protagonist's way. And then ... sometimes it's horribly depressing to be too realistic. We all have our own wounds we're trying to heal, and seeing a similar bad experience will make it no longer entertaining. So there is this aspect of idealization we have to consider ...

Hmm. Anyway. Yes, I agree. Romances can get horribly formulaic in games because they're in a specific medium that knows to hold off the "reward" until you complete the game. When I wrote Loren, I had to stop the characters from kissing before the ending CG scenes many times. As Jack told me, the player is going to expect a CG for when they kiss the first time, and he just doesn't have the resources to commission CGs for every whim I have. I'm sorta boxed into a corner, where everyone has to progress equally and do the same thing at the same time (surprise naked party!!). Thankfully, in my own games, I get to progress relationships however I want and it's refreshing. :)

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Sylrissa
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Re: The Progression of Romance

Postby Sylrissa » Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:27 pm

A shame, but understandable that he can only work within the confines of his budget. Though now I'm am curious what the story would be like, and how the romances would play out without such restraints.

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jack1974
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Re: The Progression of Romance

Postby jack1974 » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:44 pm

Aleema wrote:Hmm. Anyway. Yes, I agree. Romances can get horribly formulaic in games because they're in a specific medium that knows to hold off the "reward" until you complete the game. When I wrote Loren, I had to stop the characters from kissing before the ending CG scenes many times. As Jack told me, the player is going to expect a CG for when they kiss the first time, and he just doesn't have the resources to commission CGs for every whim I have. I'm sorta boxed into a corner, where everyone has to progress equally and do the same thing at the same time (surprise naked party!!). Thankfully, in my own games, I get to progress relationships however I want and it's refreshing. :)

Hehe I still remember on Heileen 1, when I had John kiss Heileen at the very beginning of the game, people were complaining "what no CG scene of the kiss!?" :mrgreen:
I am kind of new to those games, and to writing in general (now I don't write directly but make storyboard or direct people even if everyone can confirm that I leave them freedom).
For Loren, when Aleema got on board I had already everything planned, all the romances done, and wanted to follow that kind of "formula".
For Loren 2 I can already say that there will be more freedom. I have made already some CGs for the love scenes. But I definitely don't want to limit the writers anymore as much as I can. A main problem is that to do things well, I believe there should be the complete plot FIRST, and then commission the art based on what happens. Unfortunately so far that is not the case. If I stop commissioning Loren's artist he could take a fulltime job and not be available anymore for years like happened with Rebecca (Heileen artist).
And since I think losing a reliable artist is the worst thing it can happen, you kind of understand my position :?

However for next games, including also Planet Stronghold 2, I don't want to limit the love scenes to the end only. I mean even if I have the CG, they can also happen earlier. The important thing is that happens after the demo, otherwise is an incentive less for people to buy the games :mrgreen:

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jack1974
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Re: The Progression of Romance

Postby jack1974 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:36 am

Just got word back from Nicole's writer, and he said he likes the idea. So even in Nicole the romance kiss/love declaration won't necessarily happen at the end of the story :)

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thesleepykitten
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Re: The Progression of Romance

Postby thesleepykitten » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:18 pm

ChaosMorning wrote:Honestly, it's a bit too odd for me. I mean, most relationships would probably have a touch more dating and the first kiss far earlier in the relationship.
Say, multiple dates, a first kiss or tryst occurring earlier in the game as opposed to the games conclusion. I think this would lend itself well to the plot, that way it wouldn't feel so based on the physical aspect of the relationship.


That and depends how 'open' you want the game to be. i.e. whether you still want the option to pursue multiple love interests. Like in Harvest Moon I have a habit of getting *all* of the girls up to red hearts before I consider marrying one. I don't think it would play out so well in real life... ^^; And if you did that in Persona 3 and got caught...

In many dating visual novels (i.e. even those Android otome games) there's a prologue and then once the prologue is over, it'll focus on one character route depending on your choices in the opening - or just straight out picking/buying the route. In Katawa Shoujo whoever you ended up going to the festival with would be your love interest for the entire route with no option to pick someone else (unless it allowed you.)

The sooner the first kiss/date/etc happens, the earlier the other love interests get locked out (unless the game gives you the option to cheat or be ambiguous about the relationship and not really commit.) So I guess it's also a balancing thing too... And of course CGs/resources, how much writing you can devote to developing the relationship...

jack1974 wrote:For Spirited Heart 2 the writer suggested to have more events AFTER they marry - not sure if we'll add that yet considering each character is about 20k words on average, which means 120k words only for the base 6 characters. But I'd love to have that option.


Yea, although right now the yaoi/yuri expansion seems to be more popular with the players. ;D We'll figure it out.

But originally I thought an epilogue-type add-on would be nice. ^^; Since after the confession, that's it...

Some people love the thrill of seeing a relationship develop, and everything post-confession isn't appealing, while some people wish there was a continuation to see how the new couple fares in their engaged/married/dating life...


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