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^ Well said.

 

DA:I I think is an example of a game with romances that exist just to show they represent the whole spectrum of sexual orientations. I mean, its nice that those are available, but it feels forced. Also in Bioware games everyone tends to be single and looking. I'm fond of how OE handled romance in F:NV. Your companions simply weren't interested in you, or they were in relationships with someone else. I thought that was a great way to get around having a romance mechanic in the game, but making it fit in story-wise.

 

I'm playing through Witcher 1 right now and find that nudity in video games is especially unnecessary. I don't think it adds anything meaningful to the game. Now with nudity in DA:I I'm concerned it's going to become a trend. At least in Dragon Age you're actually developing a relationship beforehand tho...

BioWare romances since the beginning have been nothing more than "tech demos". They don't know how to do them right, they just keep adding a bit here and there.

 

The Witcher... don't get me started.

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Bioware used to have me by the balls since BG1 but the "romance" creepdom and the hectoring SJW blather from the tumblrsexual snowflakes on their forum has really put me off their latest DA game. So I'm all for a change of palate with PoE. 

I agree 100% with this, but I also disagree 100% with this response of therefore excluding them altogether.

I'm not advocating taking a leaf from Inquisition's book and the politics of their developers.

What I am saying is that throwing out romances from an Infinity inspired RPG is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

 

 

Bioware only came to that political stance after years of being hammered.  And I don't think it is a political stance they are just doing what their customers demand they do.  So...romance makers take warning.  You better pander to a large set of people.

Edited by Valmy
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They don't know how to do them right, they just keep adding a bit here and there.

 

Eh they are a mixed bag from good to embarrassingly dreadful.

 

But they are also considered the standard in the industry for this sort of thing.

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The best way to handle this would be to have there be only one 'romance option' - a woman reincarnated into a man's body, who wears women's clothing, acts feminine, and is 80 years old. You can either continue down the romance subplot and see Chris Avellone's reluctant take on non-heteronormativity and gerontophilia, or say something like "But you're not a woman" for a massive approval boost from your entire party, except Edêr for some reason.

 

That ought to piss off just about everyone.

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I just tend to see romances in games as generally puerile sorts of adolescent wish fulfillment.  Anyone who's been is a serious relationship can't take the vast majority of video game romances seriously.  

Video games in general are puerile sorts of adolescent wish fulfillment. Do you think games eg CoD, GTA, FIFA, etc. are any easier to take seriously when put besides RL? Games aren't life experience simulators. I don't think what people want out of video game romances is 'serious RL relationships,' just as I don't think what people want out of GTA is a 'serious simulation' of what it is to be an organized crime boss/inner city gangster. 

 

In fact, fantasy/sci-fi themed RPGs, even further so than games eg GTA and CoD, are all about wish fulfillment. Archetypal fantasy RPGs are variations on the Hero's Journey, while in counter-current RPGs, it's about being a gritty bad ass eg the fantasy equivalent of Noir anti-heroes. In both cases, the game world, narrative, characters, etc. revolve around the PC. Whether it's Commander Shepard, the Nameless One, the Knight Captain, etc., the PC's role is eternally that of the MVP, the alpha-protagonist, the axial-character.

 

To this end, it's difficult - on the surface - to understand why there's a double standard regarding 'wish fulfillment' in video game romances vs. 'wish fulfillment' in video games at large. You're fine with being the hero who saves the world, but not the guy who gets the girl? <replace at will with personal gender preference>. Never mind the fact that in RL, a hero who saves the world is liable to have suitors tripping over each other, the disproportionate resistance people have towards 'wish fulfillment' in romantic relationships is quite illogical when you take into account how little resistance they have towards 'wish fulfillment' in other aspects of the game.

 

Is it cultural? After all, the Japanese, known for their dating sims & wishful-thinking romances in games, do not look to be afflicted with the same double standard. Indeed, Eastern pop-media, on average, have little inhibition when it comes to fantastic 'wish fulfillment' romantic scenarios.

 

But in that case, what is it about Western culture, exactly, that makes it so difficult for us to entertain such scenarios with a straight face? I ask this not specifically of you, but of all the people - including myself - who, over the years, have expressed the exact same distaste about 'wish fulfillment' in video game romances. It's not occurred to me till recently how fundamentally hypocritical - and culturally conditioned - such an attitude is.

Edited by Azarkon
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There are doors

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But in that case, what is it about Western culture, exactly, that makes it so difficult for us to entertain such scenarios with a straight face? I ask this not specifically of you, but of all the people - including myself - who, over the years, have expressed the exact same distaste about 'wish fulfillment' in video game romances. It's not occurred to me till recently how fundamentally hypocritical - and culturally conditioned - such an attitude is.

 

 

Western culture?  We have been doing romances for centuries and include them amongst our most treasured cultural achievements.  Aren't you being just a little hyperbolic here attacking an entire culture for a few people's opinions on RPG romances?

 

Maybe instead of burning down a civilization in a bizarre bit of generalization you should just stick with the argument that wish fulfillment is what we are in the business of here.

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Bioware used to have me by the balls since BG1 but the "romance" creepdom and the hectoring SJW blather from the tumblrsexual snowflakes on their forum has really put me off their latest DA game. So I'm all for a change of palate with PoE. 

I agree 100% with this, but I also disagree 100% with this response of therefore excluding them altogether.

I'm not advocating taking a leaf from Inquisition's book and the politics of their developers.

What I am saying is that throwing out romances from an Infinity inspired RPG is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

 

 

Bioware only came to that political stance after years of being hammered.  So...romance makers take warning.  You better pander to a large set of people.

 

am thinking the lesson is that bioware pandered to a small set o' folks that were very loud and persistent.  and it didn't hurt that many biowarians were already sympathetic to The Cause. the folks asking for romances started out small.  the folks that wanted alternative romances were an even smaller subset.  we recall silvermoon's Ladies of Neverwinter site.  most o' the romance discussion by gaider and romance fans were happening off-site from bioware a considerable time after the release of bg2... years after bg2 release.   even now, regardless o' how ubiquitous is promancer threads at bioware, the total number o' posters involved in such threads compared to the number o' actual bioware game purchasers is negligible.  the thing is, the promancers is a disenfranchised group nearly everywhere save for bioware.  the promancers, starved for love, found it at bioware.  

 

*shrug*

 

in any event, the thing that prevents the tangential and optional companion romances from being anything more than pap for the slobbering promancers and the gibbering sjw crowd is the thing that makes 'em acceptable to Gromnir: they are tangential and optional.  try and think o' a decent story with romance wherein the romance were complete tangential and coulda' been optional.  ask a rpg writer to create a good romance arc.  fine.  now tell him/her that he must complete the entire arc with a half-dozen dialogue encounters and the entire romance must be optional and tangential to the main plot.

 

...

 

@#$%.  @#$% U.

 

bioware has the resources to spend on romances, so we don't begrudge the promancers their digital titillation.  as we is not compelled to endure the romances, we is finding little argument to oppose their inclusion save for 2 points:

 

1) the existence on romances decrease the likelihood that we will see critical path love.

 

am not particular caring if the writers o' a crpg develop thematic love that would engage jane austin or chris avellone, but the presence o' the romances, we suspect, diminishes the likelihood we see an exploration o' such fodder in the main plot o' crpgs.  for anybody who does engage and explore the romances, a critical path love theme would/should seem redundant. no more ravel 'cause instead you were able to consummate a love triangle with fall-from-grace and annah... or given the current trend we see at bio, the likely triangle would include fall-from-grace and dak'kon. we lose ravel love 'cause folks wanna sex-up a succubus? 

 

&

 

2) the resources spent on creating romance dialogues coulda' been spent on other, and necessarily more meaningful, dialogue encounters.

 

tangential and optional romances is, by their very nature, unnecessary.  that is axiomatic, yes?  critical path dialogues, on the other hand...

 

*shrug*

 

even so, where developers have resources enough to appease the vocal minority without punishing Gromnir save by our awareness o' lost opportunities for core game development, we is accepting o' the presence o' romances.  HOWEVER, obsidian has stated many times that they didn't have the resources to do romances well.  end of story.

 

but hey, Gromnir is about constructive solutions.  "no" to romance is constructive enough, but somebody suggested dlc romance, yes?  HA!  that would actual be fun to see.  torment had a recent funding campaign to expand the Bloom... or was it the gullet?  do the same for romances.  we don't want romance to be a stretch goal, but a separate dlc goal?  fine.  assuming there is obsidian writers with the time for such piffle, have a complete separate funding goal for tacked-on romance dlc.  only the promancers need contribute to the funding o' such dlc. everybody wins that way, yes?

 

HA! Good Fun!

Edited by Gromnir
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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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I disagree, especially for a dungeon crawl game.  The story is there to keep people engaged in killing more stuff, not for cares and feels.  I'll go watch My Little Pony if I want that.  [seriously, that isn't a dig, if I want warm fuzzies, I go watch MLP.]

 

And given obsidian's track record (of published games), trying to write characters that are even vaguely interesting is a challenge for them, let alone one (or more) worth caring about.  PoE will be successful if stabbing fools in the face and taking their stuff is fun, and if the story keeps players engaged enough to keep doing that.  Getting people to care about their characters only matters if there is an urgent need for bad fanfics or new wanking material.  Either way, I'd be obliged if anyone who wants that keeps it to themselves. 

 

I disagree, although I do see your point.

 

I remember Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn fondly mainly because characters had their own agendas, their own beliefs and were willing to stand up to them. The point where they left a team after you took too long to help them complete their goals or did something they couldn't "live with". Many of them weren't even trying to be nice to you. It made me think of them like they were human beings real and thus I cared more than I would otherwise. What you're saying can be true, but in the context of old dungeon crawlers or hack'n'slashes, where story and characters play a minor role and combat is the most important part. You can play IE games the way you describe, but that's one way to do it and I'd argue not the best, because the focus understanding of RPGs shifted from traditional dungeon crawling to role playing as the most important aspect of RPG genre. That's how I approach it.

 

Wait, lets break down the IE games, then, both because you're calling them out for being playable as something other than simple dungeon crawls, and because PoE is riding the IE games as inspiration/format from start to finish.

 

BG:  Romance?  nope.  Interaction?  Not much, certainly not with your party.  After a false start, you're dragged into an interesting regional conspiracy, and then you're dragged back to the Chosen One bollocks B-plot at the very end.  Interaction is pretty much limited to questioning people before you kill them or just killing them and reading their copious notes.

 

BG2:  Romance?  Yes, and awful to boot.  Interaction?  A little.  Mostly an arbitrary number gets too low/high depending on alignment.  Frankly, most characters don't leave if you take too long, and once you do their thing (which you're going to do anyway, since you want the XP and loot), they shut up and never bother you again.  Thats... pretty minimal, and certainly doesn't involve agendas, just flags and timers, and you can stretch most of them to an utterly ridiculous degree.  Nalia is a good posterchild for how utterly fake this is as the scenario is her home is literally currently under attack, but the situation is utterly static and it makes no difference if you do it immediately, months later or honestly never.  Daddy will always be dead, horrible aunt will always be alive, and she wants to whore herself out to you as an adventurer or simply accept a unwanted marriage based solely on the last bit of dialogue (Recruit Y/N?) and not whether you delayed, came immediately or even brutally murdered her aunt.

 

Tormnet:  Definitely the one that minimizes combat and emphasizes interaction, but unfortunately helps paint the (false) picture that they need to be mutually exclusive, as the combat takes a turn for the terrible, and the emphasis is on the oddities.  Romance kinda-sorta exists, but generally not the kind of thing most romance fanatics want, for a lot of reasons.

 

IWD:  Romance: Ha  Interaction?  Barely any of that. 

IWD2:  Still no.  Bit more interaction, but really, these games are as close to pure dungeon crawls as you can get.  Sadly they both have terrible stories to boot, which cements them in my opinion as pretty terrible games.

 

 

Honestly, I'll happily argue that BG1 is the best of the lot, simply because it has the best story (if you ignore Gorion and Sarevok).  The Iron Crisis/Iron Throne gives a credible reason to be adventuring, completely divorced from any chosen one nonsense, and feels more like an actual D&D campaign than any other game under the IE tag.   The enemy organization has a reasonable motive (screw with the market and regional politics to make money), level appropriate, credible foes, and it unfolds to the player in a reasonable way. (with the exception of 'go hook up with my old adventuring companions at the Inn who are inexplicably low level'; it definitely needs a better hook)

 

By comparison, BG2 inexplicably tries to motivate the player solely on the back of Imoen. Really, who thought this was a good idea?  Then it goes a step further and  inflicts Jaheira on the player again as well, and adds an insult to injury romance days after her husband dies..  Minsc, I can understand, even if I don't really like him.  The villain is inexplicable, and once finally explained, makes even less sense, especially to anyone familiar with D&D/FR lore.  Does he have some good lines?  Sure, but really everything good in the game happens independently of the railroad-plot begininng and the increasingly erratic villain.  I actually find Sawyer's comments that Chapter 2 is overcrowded with content to be pretty inexplicable, because to me, that is the game.  All the rubbish about gods and souls is ridiculous, the fun is in the adventuring.

 

Which... frankly, is a little worrying about PoE.  I'm concerned they're going to copy the weakest parts of the BG games (the navel gazing nonsense about being a chosen one), and fill it in with the terribly designed filler encounters of the IWD games. 

Edited by Voss
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I get you ol' Azar, but the best answer I can give on the phone is that I want more from my 'hero' wish fulfilment than to walk in the room and have the bad guy die at my feet. If the general story arc for the Obsidz games were the same as for the romances I've seen, I'd be calling them puerile also.

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I actually find Sawyer's comments that Chapter 2 is overcrowded with content to be pretty inexplicable, because to me, that is the game.

 

That's exactly what he meant. Though Sawyer is a professionnal gentleman that wouldn't hurt the feelings of anybody by claiming out loud the utter truth of bg2 design.

 

Although totally agree on BG investigation plot. It's the kind of stuff that always hook me (and is why I immediatly liked New Vegas as well, though it's definitely not the same scope of investigation ofc) and the contaminated-iron weapons made the world even more tangible in a way than the sequel. For all the reasons you've already mentioned.

Edited by CaptainMace

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A Romance DLC?  I like it.  Each Romance could be sold separately!

 

Wait I better stop before the AAA guys grab this idea and run with it.

we would prefer if the AAA guys would adopt such a model.  the romances invariably feel tacked on because they is tangential and optional.  so, why pretend?  tack 'em on as day 1 dlc. sure, folks would initially express RAGE over having to pay for an otherwise essential (*snort*) feature, but on the positive end o' the spectrum, folks could finally get the romances they genuine wished to explore. vote with dollars.  spend $40 extra so you can romance all the possible companions offered by bioware or __________ via dlc?  sounds like a fantastic idea.

 

HA! Good Fun!

Edited by Gromnir

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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But they are also considered the standard in the industry for this sort of thing.

Yes, in the same way that an elementary school teacher who hands out free Snickers bars every day becomes the "industry standard" in elementary teachers.

 

A giant, biased group of people liking them the most doesn't really designate an industry standard. Especially considering how the rest of the actual industry looks upon their work, specifically with romances.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I call for romance threads to be renamed flame wars vol. __ and the actual word "romance" to be filtered to "cucumber" so anyone who reads it can laugh.

Edited by BigBripa
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Especially considering how the rest of the actual industry looks upon their work, specifically with romances.

 

Overwhelmingly positively?

 

Oh, is that why all RPG creators copy them and include the same kinds of romantic content in their games? Oh, wait... they don't. I forgot.

 

Methinks you missed my whole point in my last post. If you give kids candy, the response is going to be overwhelmingly positive. Doesn't mean the kids should decide everything. Especially when you're planning a banquet for not-just-kids, but you decide to sprinkle candy throughout all the dishes, because "a bunch of people" see that as "overwhelmingly positive."

 

I'm rather enjoying DA:I right now, but I reallllly don't like the romance in it. And I'm not even against romance. I'm all for it. So, where is this "overwhelmingly positive" response to their romantic components? Is it from all the people who already like romance, simply because romance? Yeah, that's a splendidly useful response, isn't it. Let's make all our future development decisions based on that, why don't we...

 

I get you ol' Azar, but the best answer I can give on the phone is that I want more from my 'hero' wish fulfilment than to walk in the room and have the bad guy die at my feet. If the general story arc for the Obsidz games were the same as for the romances I've seen, I'd be calling them puerile also.

That, and the goal of playing the game isn't to achieve the death of the bad guy. A Mario game, maybe. You play through levels until you win. The goal of an RPG? It's to play the game. Sure, there's an element of winning involved, but, it's more about the journey than the destination, to put it simply. Or rather, the destination is pretty much just a part of the journey. If you could simply stock up on healing potions and scrolls of invulnerability, then storm the bad guy's castle 3 minutes into the game and kill him in his sleep, then have your whole party victory-fist into the air and freeze frame as credits roll, it wouldn't be much of an RPG.

 

So, I dare say the same about any romantic element in an RPG. As has been pointed out, among the many, many flaws in "typical" romances we see in these games is that the goal is to romance the character. When they have been fully romanced, you win. There's like, a measurably romantification. You start at 0, and go to 100. That's dumb. Really, really dumb.

 

Don't get me wrong. If you like that kind of gameplay/goal, then there's nothing objectively wrong with that. But, it doesn't in any way go with a game like this. There are games for that. There's fanfiction for that. There are movies and books for that, etc. If you think there aren't enough games for that, then petition someone to make more games with that as a central design goal from the get-go.

 

Basically, the only type of romance that has any place in these RPGs is the kind that would not appease the "romance fanatics." I don't think any "fanatics" should be appeased by a game that wasn't targeted to a fanatic demographic in the first place.

Edited by Lephys
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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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IWD: Romance: Ha Interaction? Barely any of that.

IWD2: Still no. Bit more interaction, but really, these games are as close to pure dungeon crawls as you can get. Sadly they both have terrible stories to boot, which cements them in my opinion as pretty terrible games.

Gosh I disagree. I thought IWD1's story was probably the best one of all the IE games after PS:T's. It had BG1's delivery system (unfolding the mystery by climbing up the enemy ranks) Plus the added complexity when you discover that there's 2 completely different factions of enemies. And then there's the individual stories behind each of the Dungeons (how could anyone not appreciate the history of the Severed Hand?). The only thing IWD1's narrative really suffered from was that Belhifet wasn't very fleshed out. He was essentially a faceless Big Bad. Which is a shame since, if he's really akin to a named entity of the 9 hells, he should have an intriguing personality.

 

I rank BG2's story lower because it's the exact opposite. There was no mystery. The Boss and his plans are pretty much presented to you in the prologue. On the other hand, This Boss is quite fleshed out.

 

But... unlike a lot of people here, I'm not a story whore. When a game has a crap story, I can still give it a 9/10, and call it the greatest game ever - assuming it does everything else well, like combat, gameplay, atmosphere. Which is why I rank BG2 at the top. Nothing great about its narrative, or its NPCs, but it does everything else so god damn well that it wins...by 100 miles.

Edited by Stun
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I call for romance threads to be renamed flame wars vol. __ and the actual word "romance" to be filtered to "cucumber" so anyone who reads it can laugh.

Not cucumber, CHICKEN STRIPS. Try and keep up.
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But... unlike a lot of people here, I'm not a story whore. When a game has a crap story, I can still give it a 9/10, and call it the greatest game ever - assuming it does everything else well, like combat, gameplay, atmosphere. Which is why I rank BG2 at the top. Nothing great about its narrative, or its NPCs, but it does everything else so god damn well that it wins...by 100 miles.

This. Even if a game has not-so-fantastic gameplay, but a fantastic story, while I can't give it a 9/10, I can still rate it well, for what it is (maybe a 7/10?). I mean, I enjoyed The Last of Us, but it wasn't because the gameplay was super fun. It was pretty super-basic 3rd-person shooting, on a mechanical level. Sure, the animations and detail in enemy unit actions and movements (and your own) were amazing, but the actual AI/behaviors, and the actual combat/stealth mechanics were nothing to write home about. Which is kind of a shame. Story-heavy games don't necessarily need to map a new continent with their gameplay mechanics, but they should at least be quite solid and enjoyable, even without the story there. If sneaking past a dude is only fun because the story progresses, for example, then I don't think you should even have to do that. It should just be one of those things you control, but that you can't really fail at. "Quick, over here, through this vent shaft that the guard's never going to spontaneously check, so as long as you do what I'm telling you, you're always going to sneak past him."

 

Annnnnnywho... Mechanics are important, even if the story's more so.

 

Now back to Romance. :)

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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IWD is my second favorite of the IE games, right after PS:T and right before BG2.  ...And I *am* a story whore.  Well... maybe just a whore who likes a good story.  The point is, IWD was billed as a hack and slash game and you could ignore a lot of the story if you wanted to do so, but I thought many of the characters in the game were clever and cool.  Sure, they were pulling a fast one with the ending, but even that worked out nicely.  IWD2 probably was the second best in terms of the story simply because it managed to preserve the evil nature of the antagonist while giving the player room to sympathize with his (or their) cause.  BG 2 had a good story, but really shone in terms of NPC interactions, which Bioware did extremely well with KotOR.  and KotOR used the Star Wars universe, with which I have been steadily displeased since the introduction of ewoks.  Even at my relatively young age when I went to the movie, I still hated ewoks.

 

Grom mentioned something in jest or sarcasm up above that I'd actually been considering as an example of something akin to romance done right.  Maybe bromance.  The Nameless One's relationship with Dak'kon, complete with the realization that a former incarnation of TNO had at the very least taken advantage of the Gith, was remarkable.  ...And it was remarkable at every level.  At early levels, Dak'kon is inscrutable and mysterious.  If you don't pursue more with him, he remains an enigmatic figure.  As you progress in your relationship and understand that you've actually had some sort of extensive interaction with him in the past, the relationship itself becomes a conundrum.  If you take the time to finish the circles and choose to help him with his struggling faith, then he still has mysterious elements that remain unknown and you're still left wondering about everything that happened between the two of you in the past, but you've got an unbreakable bond.  As far as I'm concerned, they could have just made him an exotic looking chic and it would have had everything necessary for a true romance.  I mean, what's in a name?  Call him Dak'kette and give them a kissing scene for all I care, it's still one of the great NPC relationships in any game I've played.

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I'm sorry, but unless you freely sell your story-writing creativity in an astoundingly open fashion, no one is a "story whore." You might be a story "junkie," or a story "fanatic," etc. Whoring is the act of trading something of your own (usually just one thing, but it can be used more figuratively) for monetary gain. Or, it could also be used to describe one who manages others, and freely trades their stuff for monetary gain. Either way, being extremely particular about and/or obsessed with some aspect of games' designs is in no way akin to whoring.

 

I really have no idea why that's a thing. It's a commonly used phrase all other the internet, now, and it makes no sense.

 

My apologies for this service announcement. Please, continue. *bow*

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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It's not harsh. It's simply inaccurate. I was just letting you (and, really, everyone) know. I mean, I know what you meant, simply because it's become inexplicably common for people to use the term like that. You can continue calling it what you wish. I just wanted to point that out, so that maybe we can collectively say "Oh yeah, that's not really what I meant," and start making accurate word-to-idea relationships cool again.

 

I'm uhh... I'm not sure "storymancer" works, either, unless someone is mancing stories. 8P

 

If we mish-mash "plot junkie," we get "plunkie." That's kind of fun, original.gif

Edited by Lephys

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Noooo!  I still don't understand the 'p' in 'promancer.'  Maybe Player Romancers?  Storymancer has a nice ring and I would be willing to call myself a storymancer.  Beats the usual:  weirdo, dork, geek, perv, etc etc.

 

Now, as for relationships in games, I had this idea a long time ago that I'll dig up around here someone and throw out to be flamed, abused, and otherwise ridiculed.  Let's see... it's around here somewhere!

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

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But in that case, what is it about Western culture, exactly, that makes it so difficult for us to entertain such scenarios with a straight face? I ask this not specifically of you, but of all the people - including myself - who, over the years, have expressed the exact same distaste about 'wish fulfillment' in video game romances. It's not occurred to me till recently how fundamentally hypocritical - and culturally conditioned - such an attitude is.

 

 

Western culture?  We have been doing romances for centuries and include them amongst our most treasured cultural achievements.  Aren't you being just a little hyperbolic here attacking an entire culture for a few people's opinions on RPG romances?

 

Maybe instead of burning down a civilization in a bizarre bit of generalization you should just stick with the argument that wish fulfillment is what we are in the business of here.

 

I was obviously talking about modern Western culture; it isn't necessarily a condemnation; and it isn't limited to video games. Romantic 'wish fulfillment' is derided in contemporary Western pop culture wherever it appears - simply look at the Twilight flak - and especially by men. But its cousin - sexual 'wish fulfillment' - isn't. In lieu of romance, what we get in Western made-for-male-consumption pop media is instead porn and soft-porn - ie the parade of scantily clad females in films, tv shows, and games whose only purpose there is to provide various states of undress. At the same time, other figments of wish fulfillment - especially of the violent, heroic sort - are ingested without a shred of introspection. Teenagers today grow up on games eg GTA, CoD, and Madden NFL, which speak to their 'power fantasies'; but when it comes to romance, all they get are GTA shack-a-hos and Bioware 'SJW progressivism.' A lot of it comes down to the sort of hyper-masculine ideal that is, in my opinion, intrinsic to modern Western culture's social standard for males, but that's precisely what makes it so hard to see when you don't have a foil.

 

The purpose of my bringing this up is to think about why, after a bit of initial experimentation with romances in games, the video games industry in the US - and to a lesser degree in Europe - abandoned them altogether, while in Japan, for example, romantic wish fulfillment became a thriving industry for both male and female gamers. Promancers flock to RPG forums - and especially to Bioware's and Obsidian's - because interactive romantic content is basically only found in this increasingly marginalized genre, along with a handful of indie games. Yet, even among Western RPG developers, it is a dying art - as Gromnir has effectively argued. Bioware does a bang up job selling their romances, but in the end, even for them it's an afterthought.

 

I'm all for debating the pros and cons of having romance in games, but at the end of the day - is there simply an insurmountable cultural barrier to romantic wish fulfillment in the US and Europe, such that promancers are forced to coat their arguments in a veneer of aesthetic respectability lest they get laughed out of the room? For gamers in the West, 'dating sim' is the sort of phrase you don't want to touch with a ten-foot pole, even behind the protection of anonymity. Hell, I've met Persona fans who were positively horrified when I floated the idea that it was a dating sim. But isn't it just our cultural proclivity? And does it hurt us to admit it? That's what I figured out after all this to-and-fro about the 'objective' value of romances in games - they're no different, at the end of the day, from all the other types of wish fulfillment that make up gaming.

Edited by Azarkon
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