Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

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Harliqueen
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Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#1 Post by Harliqueen » Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:34 am

In the visual novel I am planning, it is a single romance, and although it is a romance-focused story, I was still going to have an option for a friendship path rather than romance.

My question is, do you think it would be a good idea to make it obvious which answers lead to friendship and which ones lead to romance?

Having played Dragon Age: Inquisition, and the flirt options made obvious by the heart icon in the dialogue choice, I wondered if I should so something similar?

For example, if he says something flirtatious to her about her looks the options could be:

Flirt: Thank you, you're not bad looking yourself.
Friendship: Thank you for the compliment.

I mean, that is not a great example, because the dialogue makes it kind of obvious which is flirt or not, but I didn't know on more ambiguous choices if it would be something the player would like?

Thank you for any thoughts :)

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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#2 Post by fleet » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:47 pm

My preference is that you make it obvious.
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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#3 Post by trooper6 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:34 pm

Many people like it really, really obvious so they can game the system, so you should probably do that.
I don't actually prefer that. I like my games to be more realistic. I like being given dialogue and then I have to decide if I think that choice will be appropriate to get the effect I want. And maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I also prefer to have multiple points of interaction so one choice isn't the deciding factor, and I prefer that the consequences for choices not be immediately obvious all the time in order to thwart save scumming.

In other words I prefer my games to be really immersive and feel more like a real situation than a just a game.
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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#4 Post by CSV » Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:50 pm

I think it would be interesting to make it slightly less obvious than usual. On the other hand, if there is more than one character route, you should make sure that everyone's clear on who is romanceable and who is not.
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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#5 Post by trooper6 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:04 pm

CSV wrote:I think it would be interesting to make it slightly less obvious than usual. On the other hand, if there is more than one character route, you should make sure that everyone's clear on who is romanceable and who is not.
Again, because I'm a simulationist, I don't want it to be obvious who is romanceable and who is not in an Out-Of-Character way. In real life we don't get a manual telling us ahead of time.

I want the character to have to figure it out.
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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#6 Post by Boreas » Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:19 pm

I can see why people would prefer obvious, but I prefer that you need to pay attention to the character to know what they want. Little hints dropped here and there so when a question comes up you can answer it correctly. Having my hand held through the game makes me feel that either the person is unskilled at writing any better, or feels the player must be pretty dumb. This is just my opinion though.

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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#7 Post by E-night » Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:39 pm

I think it is important that you realize why bioware has the obvious flirt (Heart). The obvious one is to make the romance obvious of course, but that there is underlying reasons as well.

One is that romance in Dragon Age is side content, with focus on side, and some people really don't like it and don't want their character to suddenly be in a relantionship with an NPC.

The other is that some people really don't like it if the NPC initiate the flirting (and I am being gracious here) so the heart icon basically helps the computer to flag - flirting okay.

There is also another reason and that is that the computer only have limited ways off understanding the PC, so the flirt icon also give the players an option of expression to the computer that PC is interested so the computer can let the PC express that interest.

But your game doesn't seem to be a roleplaying game, but a game that focus on the relantionship between two characters and in that case I am not sure you should flag the routes so clearly unless you want to draw attention to the fact that is a game. Remember that in most VNs dialog choices are the gameplay, while it in games like Dragon Age only are a part of the game.

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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#8 Post by trooper6 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:51 pm

E-night is correct, and I'll add one more reason why Bioware uses the flags:
Because they are fully voiced, they don't have the exact words the character will say written out, but a general sense. The icons (flirty, jokey, aggressive) were added so that players would better know what the truncated text was going for.

Now, I think "flags" are fine if the text is ambiguous.
"You look nice today" (flirty)
"You look nice today" (lying)
"You look nice today" (sarcastic)

That's cool. *BUT* for me those flags should be about telling your how the player is saying things and should not be contract with the NPC. I mean, just because my MC flirts with a NPC doesn't mean that should lead to romance.

Side note: I *loved* it that in Dragon Age 2, there were NPCs that initiated flirting (and I had to let down gently or not) and that there were NPCs who I could flirt with, but who were not into me that way. I wish more games had that. I don't like an artificial feeling of the MC as the center of the universe and all NPCs just there fulfill your every need however you want them to. I want the NPCs to have their own lives, feelings, and goals.
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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#9 Post by E-night » Mon Feb 09, 2015 4:57 pm

Pure text can be ambigous too, though. Both da:o and some old text games have tripped me up when it came to the tone of a dialog. Espically because the NPC's usually react to it in a way that makes it clear that it was said in a specific tone.

I agree, though, that player-intent, npc reaction should not be 1:1.

And as a side note. I always found it a shame that da2 didn't have a flirtatious - dominant tone as well. I could certainly have helped remove some criticisim of the heart being and automatic win bottom, and it is a legitimate attitude for people to have (dragon age even have two characters who have that attitude).

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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#10 Post by trooper6 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:17 pm

E-night wrote:Pure text can be ambigous too, though. Both da:o and some old text games have tripped me up when it came to the tone of a dialog. Espically because the NPC's usually react to it in a way that makes it clear that it was said in a specific tone.

I agree, though, that player-intent, npc reaction should not be 1:1.

And as a side note. I always found it a shame that da2 didn't have a flirtatious - dominant tone as well. I could certainly have helped remove some criticisim of the heart being and automatic win bottom, and it is a legitimate attitude for people to have (dragon age even have two characters who have that attitude).
Oh, I agree. I just remember people going on and on about how *everything was so clear* in DA:O and how unclear DA2 was. I am skeptical of that because you know what? I never somehow accidentally found myself having sex with Anders. You don't end up having sex with an NPC accidentally--which so many complainers complained about.

But generally speaking, I'd like *more* character attitude nuance. I'd like the choices you make help broadcast your personality and have that reflect your choices. So, for example, if you play a passive character, your flirtation would be passive...which would appeal to some NPCs but not others. If you are an aggressive character, your flirtation would be aggressive, which would appeal to some NPCs but not others. Basically, I want more character personality stats! And I want more of a relationship between those stats and what options you have in your conversations.

I can see how this would work in Renpy. You have personality flags and they dictate what sort of conversation options show up in the menu.

My current renpy game (my test game) doesn't have all of the stuff I want to eventually put in a game--because it is the game I'm using to learn how to code renpy, etc. So I'm adapting the script of a play. I've put some of that stuff in, but it will be very different when I come up with my own story from the ground up and integrate from the beginning a more nuanced character evolution system.

Also, side note. I am happy to run into another DA2 fan.
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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#11 Post by Harliqueen » Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:09 pm

Thank you for all of your input!

I think I will probably go for the less obvious route, relying on the writing to guide people to the choices they want to make.

A lot of the criticism for Bioware romances does tend to be that you can just keep clicking flirt options to get the 'prize' (usually love making scene, which mine won't include anyway) without actually developing the romance.

I want the romance to feel like a gradual progression, and something that develops, so maybe the obvious adding 'Flirt' option in front of choices would break immersion too much.

I just didn't want people to feel punished for choosing non-romance options without realising and then not progressing the romance as they wanted. Though I do have quite a few key moments where if the player has accidentally chosen friendship, they can establish romance later; I'm hoping that will help solve the issue as well :)

Thank you again for your input, it's so nice to be able to ask a question and get such a varied response to think over! Much better than relying on only one or two viewpoints :D

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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#12 Post by trooper6 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:14 pm

Harliqueen wrote: I just didn't want people to feel punished for choosing non-romance options without realising and then not progressing the romance as they wanted. Though I do have quite a few key moments where if the player has accidentally chosen friendship, they can establish romance later; I'm hoping that will help solve the issue as well :)
But on the other hand, if the player chooses to never flirt with the character, to never do anything but be bland and neutral...should they be too surprised if no romance develops?

Considering all the nerd dudes complaining that women won't date them just because they are standing around being bland, if might be a good thing to reinforce the idea that you do have to do *something* to move a relationship from friendship to romance. Also, there are way too many nerd dude who characterize friendship with women as punishments. A good friendship is not a punishment, it is something valuable and wonderful.

I think romance games could to a lot to combat some of the toxic notions about romance prevalent in gamer communities. But that would be something important to me...not necessarily to anyone else.
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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#13 Post by E-night » Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:41 pm

trooper6 wrote:
E-night wrote:Pure text can be ambigous too, though. Both da:o and some old text games have tripped me up when it came to the tone of a dialog. Espically because the NPC's usually react to it in a way that makes it clear that it was said in a specific tone.

I agree, though, that player-intent, npc reaction should not be 1:1.

And as a side note. I always found it a shame that da2 didn't have a flirtatious - dominant tone as well. I could certainly have helped remove some criticisim of the heart being and automatic win bottom, and it is a legitimate attitude for people to have (dragon age even have two characters who have that attitude).
Oh, I agree. I just remember people going on and on about how *everything was so clear* in DA:O and how unclear DA2 was. I am skeptical of that because you know what? I never somehow accidentally found myself having sex with Anders. You don't end up having sex with an NPC accidentally--which so many complainers complained about.

But generally speaking, I'd like *more* character attitude nuance. I'd like the choices you make help broadcast your personality and have that reflect your choices. So, for example, if you play a passive character, your flirtation would be passive...which would appeal to some NPCs but not others. If you are an aggressive character, your flirtation would be aggressive, which would appeal to some NPCs but not others. Basically, I want more character personality stats! And I want more of a relationship between those stats and what options you have in your conversations.

I can see how this would work in Renpy. You have personality flags and they dictate what sort of conversation options show up in the menu.

My current renpy game (my test game) doesn't have all of the stuff I want to eventually put in a game--because it is the game I'm using to learn how to code renpy, etc. So I'm adapting the script of a play. I've put some of that stuff in, but it will be very different when I come up with my own story from the ground up and integrate from the beginning a more nuanced character evolution system.

Also, side note. I am happy to run into another DA2 fan.
I think that is the reason that not many games does it. Personality, attitude, inner worlds is a complicated mess and next to impossible to make nuanced enough to become truly realistic. That said, I wished roleplaying games at least tried, it is an important part of roleplaying for me.

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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#14 Post by Mad Harlequin » Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:12 pm

trooper6 wrote:I think romance games could to a lot to combat some of the toxic notions about romance prevalent in gamer communities. But that would be something important to me...not necessarily to anyone else.
You're definitely not alone in hoping for this. Trust me.
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Re: Should I make the romance and friendship routes obvious?

#15 Post by trooper6 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:27 pm

Mad Harlequin wrote:
trooper6 wrote:I think romance games could to a lot to combat some of the toxic notions about romance prevalent in gamer communities. But that would be something important to me...not necessarily to anyone else.
You're definitely not alone in hoping for this. Trust me.
I sometimes think that if the games were made, an audience would be there. I hope that is the case! I thought Magical Diary did some great things with subverting the tropes while also working within the Dating Sim framework and that games seemed to be quite popular. I suppose we just need more of them to build up critical mass.
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