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Zoodbourgh

Writing a character (and romances, too?)

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It seems that a lot of people have a great dislike toward romance in RPGs, and in the other topic I was reading (http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/86950-pillars-of-eternity-2-wish-list-and-suggestions/) it was voiced that romance is not welcome in PoE II. To me, saying "Don't put romance in the game" is similar to saying "I want all the characters in PoE II to act in a way that I approve of."  Should we really limit the writers by telling them "We don't want you to have the freedom to write the characters you want to write"?  As someone who enjoys writing, when I write a character I try to understand what the character really wants. If a character has no interest in romance, either because of the character's nature or what the character has been through, then so be it; but I don't want to place an artificial limit on my character's development by restricting his or her attachment to other characters in the story. Who am I to say he or she cannot develop romantic attachments to others? It's not my job to limit my characters; it's my job to write them as they are--to be descriptive rather than prescriptive. It just seems unfair to ask for "no romances," because if we want interesting, gritty, moving, or deep characters, then why would we want to restrict and simplify potential outcomes of their character development?

Don't we want more freedom to roleplay whomever we wish? Why shouldn't we extend that same freedom to the other characters in the story--to let them be whomever they want to be?

Now, I'm not asking that every character be a love interest; I hope I haven't conveyed that. I'm just trying to get at the fact that writers oftentimes need freedom from outside prejudice to fully develop a character--whether that prejudice be of race, creed, or romance options (or lack thereof). If a writer is limited by what his or her readers are prejudiced against, then the character will suffer for it. That is not to say a writer shouldn't make a prejudiced character ; on the contrary, freedom from outside forces allows the writer to make controversial characters. By this I mean that artistic freedom allows deep characters to made, such as characters with controversial pasts or outlooks. The writer had to be open-minded enough to write that racist or rude character, and the audience has to in turn be open-minded enough to interact with that character.

Honestly, to me, saying that we don't want romances hints at a deeper problem, and not just that we've had a history of bad romances in video games: a suggestion like "No romances!" shows just how consumer-centered video games are. How can we expect good writing or meaningful choices in games when we demand what characters should or should do, when we demand that artistic freedom be taken away? If we treat video games like burgers--"I'll take a double patty with extra sauce, no onions."--then we won't help video games become more than just a product to be consumed and thrown away.

If you've read this entire spiel, thank you so much. 

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I voted for you lol. I guess your topic won't be super popular though. But i'm totally with you on this one. There are people who are not against romances (like me) for the exact reasons you explained. It's true that a well written and well developed romance could bring new opportunities for character development in the roleplay aspect of things.

 

alala... I guess most people were fed up with what Bioware did (am i wrong? at least i were). I disliked most romances in Dragon Age Origins. For some reason it became too systematic, and, probably for the sake of some idea of "no segregation", everyone had to be bi (and it was sex feast at the camp yohou!)... Well one would have been ok. I did not need some fan service, either (the music wrapping these naked bodies by the firecamp.... :s). The one with Allistair could be ok-ish, probably because it involved some possible character development with Alistair, which could impact the main storyline in the end.

 

But if the dev remember that their players have more than 12 years old, i'm sure that they can come up with romances which feel natural, and are inscribed in the story developement, and even the world. With mature stakes for the characters involved  (not themes, spare me the mature themes, please). Something that can make characters evolve for really good reasons. I think this option could be a good option. Unless everyone start loving everyone after 1H of gameplay, of course.

Edited by Abel

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Oh I'm not against romances globally, I'm only against romances between main PC and companions because those are either a massive waste of resources, woefully underdeveloped or forced. If companions are going to romance each other that's perfectly fine, but don't put huge amounts of work into something that only minor % of playerbase is ever going to see (or something that'll become mandatory for said companion because that's where most of his/her content is)

 

Edit: As far as I'm concerned, that's the main difference between a mediocre and fantastic game writers: Mediocre ones might be able to do fantastic writing in and of itself, but fantastic game writer will write well and also learn to work with limits of the medium. Videogames are not books, even those which try to emulate them - and even the best writing ceases to be interesting the moment it stops being consistent. Like two characters who are deeply in love with each other interacting coldly and even cynically with each other 99% of the time, not because it fits the character, but because most dialogue has to be written for the "neutral" relationship.

Edited by Fenixp
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Agree with Fenixp, it just doesn't justify the resources that need to be put into it. It tends to be rather cringe-inducing as well in terms of quality. Even a large chunk of the players that would be interested in a romantic element may be unsatisfied with it because it will by necessity be restricted to a subset of characters and may therefore not include the character they would want the romance with (especially if the developers are the kind of feeble dolts that don't allow same-sex romances). Aside from that, the protagonist needs to be a blank slate, to be filled in by the player, making it rather difficult to effectively write a romance for him/her.

 

As for the artistic freedom of the writers... seriously, who cares? It's not their individual project. This is a game, it's a collaborative entertainment product, a commercial venture. The aim here isn't to offer a platform to budding new writers; as a rule, it is (in a general sense) to make a good and/or commercially successful game, and the artistic freedom of the people working on it are inherently constrained by that. So whether fulfilling these aims should involve putting in romances, and what the content of them should be, is not up to an indivual writers (if the company has any sense). 

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So BSN has closed then eh? Suppose you never miss a sanitarium until the inmates infect normal society.

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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Bowel Sounds Normal? Well they do say way into man's heart is trough his stomach, but I always flush the inmates that escape at least.

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Oh I'm not against romances globally, I'm only against romances between main PC and companions because those are either a massive waste of resources, woefully underdeveloped or forced. If companions are going to romance each other that's perfectly fine, but don't put huge amounts of work into something that only minor % of playerbase is ever going to see (or something that'll become mandatory for said companion because that's where most of his/her content is)

 

Aren't you talking about character development at its worst, though? A mechanic that is a "massive waste of resources, woefully underdeveloped or forced" could be improved into something that is "developed," and "forced" could be improved into something that is "natural." We keep talking about the past of video games and how certain aspects of character development are money pits, but doesn't that make us reiterate "It didn't work before, so let's stop trying"? Why should we give up? 

 

Further, almost every aspect of an RPG is something that only a "minor % of playerbase" is ever going to see. A lot of people who played PoE never finished the game. There are some mechanics in the game that have eluded people, including myself, and there are toooons of dialogue options that you can't choose unless you decide to be of certain race or background at the beginning of the game. PoE is a game all about choices and consequences, and because people make different choices, they're going to experience the story in certain ways and miss things that other people saw. For example, if your character has high Might, you can intimidate people. If your character doesn't have high Might, then, of course, that option will not be open to you. There are so many choices in the game that only show up to a "minor % of playerbase," so saying that another mechanic that follows in the same vein should not be implemented would therefore mean NOTHING should be left up to player choice. If you really think that's the case, why do you play RPGs?

 

 

As for the artistic freedom of the writers... seriously, who cares? It's not their individual project. This is a game, it's a collaborative entertainment product, a commercial venture. The aim here isn't to offer a platform to budding new writers; as a rule, it is (in a general sense) to make a good and/or commercially successful game, and the artistic freedom of the people working on it are inherently constrained by that. So whether fulfilling these aims should involve putting in romances, and what the content of them should be, is not up to an indivual writers (if the company has any sense). 

That's an interesting point, if a little disheartening. I don't see why games have to only be about business sense; though I do understand that money is important to a lot of people, and big games with branching paths and complicated systems cannot be made without it, unless of course the writers and programmers were willing to work for free (highly unlikely :p). Also, there is the argument that PoE was only possible because of all the Kickstarter Backers who supported the project. It's understandable that the project should be what the Backers want. However, there are games that are made by one person, and this freedom allows for a story and gameplay not constrained by what the investors and the audience want. Because of this, I don't think all games are merely "commercial ventures," nor do I think they have to be in order to be successful. I agree that video games are not usually a "platform for budding writers"; yet on the other hand, I don't see why they can't be. A story also doesn't have to be told by a writer; gameplay is just as strong a force for narrative. In my original post, I didn't mean to say that the design of the game should be up to individual writers--I only meant that it would be cool if people did away with strong prejudices toward certain elements of human nature, like romance.

 

I voted for you lol. I guess your topic won't be super popular though. But i'm totally with you on this one. There are people who are not against romances (like me) for the exact reasons you explained. It's true that a well written and well developed romance could bring new opportunities for character development in the roleplay aspect of things.

 

alala... I guess most people were fed up with what Bioware did (am i wrong? at least i were). I disliked most romances in Dragon Age Origins. For some reason it became too systematic, and, probably for the sake of some idea of "no segregation", everyone had to be bi (and it was sex feast at the camp yohou!)... Well one would have been ok. I did not need some fan service, either (the music wrapping these naked bodies by the firecamp.... :s). The one with Allistair could be ok-ish, probably because it involved some possible character development with Alistair, which could impact the main storyline in the end.

 

But if the dev remember that their players have more than 12 years old, i'm sure that they can come up with romances which feel natural, and are inscribed in the story developement, and even the world. With mature stakes for the characters involved  (not themes, spare me the mature themes, please). Something that can make characters evolve for really good reasons. I think this option could be a good option. Unless everyone start loving everyone after 1H of gameplay, of course.

Thanks :dancing: I agree! I think maturity is a huge factor, as well. It seems that a lot of RPGs take "mature" to mean "sexual," and I don't think those two things are remotely related :p

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Aren't you talking about character development at its worst, though? A mechanic that is a "massive waste of resources, woefully underdeveloped or forced" could be improved into something that is "developed," and "forced" could be improved into something that is "natural." We keep talking about the past of video games and how certain aspects of character development are money pits, but doesn't that make us reiterate "It didn't work before, so let's stop trying"? Why should we give up?

Romances are not a mechanic which needs to be developed, they're just a branch of a story which takes a ton of effort without really innovating in an area. If we want romances and dialogues in general to work properly, I'm afraid what we need is not better writers, it's advanced form of artificial intelligence which'll generate the content for them :-P

 

Further, almost every aspect of an RPG is something that only a "minor % of playerbase" is ever going to see. A lot of people who played PoE never finished the game. ... If you really think that's the case, why do you play RPGs?

Well that escalated quickly :-P Yes, it's true, many RPGs, PoE including, are built on the premise of content changing and adjusting based on player choice. Most of the time however, content can be reused and reshuffled as needed in order to maximize feeling of player impact while minimizing work necessary to achieve such end. If you wrote a fully fledged romance however, we're basically talking a huge dead branch of vastly different content which can't really be used anywhere else - I'd prefer that effort going into fleshing out the non-romance aspects of a companion.

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Thanks :dancing: I agree! I think maturity is a huge factor, as well. It seems that a lot of RPGs take "mature" to mean "sexual," and I don't think those two things are remotely related :p

 

 

Yep, they are not related in the least. That's what the "mature themes" i spoke are all about. It's more of a "teeneger content" to me.

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Further, almost every aspect of an RPG is something that only a "minor % of playerbase" is ever going to see. A lot of people who played PoE never finished the game. There are some mechanics in the game that have eluded people, including myself, and there are toooons of dialogue options that you can't choose unless you decide to be of certain race or background at the beginning of the game. PoE is a game all about choices and consequences, and because people make different choices, they're going to experience the story in certain ways and miss things that other people saw. For example, if your character has high Might, you can intimidate people. If your character doesn't have high Might, then, of course, that option will not be open to you. There are so many choices in the game that only show up to a "minor % of playerbase," so saying that another mechanic that follows in the same vein should not be implemented would therefore mean NOTHING should be left up to player choice. If you really think that's the case, why do you play RPGs?

 

That doesn't really compare though. Sure, plenty more people will see the beginning of the game than the end. On the other hand, it's conceptually impossible to not have an end to the game (even if you'd want to). Romances are entirely optional, however. 

 

As for the conditional dialogue options, those will indeed be seen by only a subset of players. But these are very minor, they generally add flavour and maybe a small change in gameplay (you resolve a confrontation peacefully instead of fighting, you get an item) but not much else; they're mostly very self-contained, different branches of dialogue will quickly converge back onto a finite set of outcomes. The choices you made in this regard usually have no impact on the rest of the game (except through generic mechanisms like dispositions and reputation and such). This makes them attractive from a development point of view, because the investment is typically just a couple of lines of dialogue being added, some differences in the quest log and whatnot. There will be exceptions to some degree, NPC-specific quests are inherently an example of that as well, but the degree to which such kind of content is included definitely has to be weighed against its cost. And given the sketchy track-record of romances in RPGs and games in general and the fact that its appeal is rather more limited than general NPC quests and content, there are plenty of good arguments against including them.

 

As for player choice, I don't really see how romances in themselves really add to that. They offer the choice of pursuing the romance or not, but then again that applies to any content; I can choose to do the NPC quests or not, I can choose to do any of the optional side-quests or not. It gets you stuff and experience points, but by themselves they can still be entirely linear. Romances in games generally are fairly as well, so in that regard they don't offer a clear added value above more general optional (NPC-specific or otherwise) quests. And of course you can make a more branching romance, but the same applies to any other quest or content as well.  

 

 

That's an interesting point, if a little disheartening. I don't see why games have to only be about business sense; though I do understand that money is important to a lot of people, and big games with branching paths and complicated systems cannot be made without it, unless of course the writers and programmers were willing to work for free (highly unlikely :p). Also, there is the argument that PoE was only possible because of all the Kickstarter Backers who supported the project. It's understandable that the project should be what the Backers want. However, there are games that are made by one person, and this freedom allows for a story and gameplay not constrained by what the investors and the audience want. Because of this, I don't think all games are merely "commercial ventures," nor do I think they have to be in order to be successful. I agree that video games are not usually a "platform for budding writers"; yet on the other hand, I don't see why they can't be. A story also doesn't have to be told by a writer; gameplay is just as strong a force for narrative. In my original post, I didn't mean to say that the design of the game should be up to individual writers--I only meant that it would be cool if people did away with strong prejudices toward certain elements of human nature, like romance.

 

They don't have to be about money and business sense alone, in my experience it works out better if the people making it can be creative and put something of themselves into it. But money is the bottom line, it's what makes it possible to make the game in the first place. And in a more general sense, money and successful games are what makes it possible for a compaby to continue to make games. 

 

This equation doesn't change because of Kickstarter backing, there is still a finite amount of money which can be converted into a finite amount of game content. It will tend to result in backers influencing that content, but that should only go so far; it's not a democracy, it's up to the developers to make the decisions and try to make it a good game. Besides, I'm not so sure such a large proportion of backers would consider romances all that crucial anyway.

 

Moreover, the equation still doesn't change when a game is being developed by a single individual. It still takes time and money to do so, and it's hardly guaranteed to result in a better game if there's one person making all the decisions for it. It's no different from any other creative medium, most of the things people create are mediocre at best; because it takes talent and imagination and practice and a lot of work to make something that's actually good. A random dude making a game in his spare time having all those qualities... the odds are fairly bleak on that. And even if he does manage to pull it of, what makes you think that game *will* contain extensively branching content (it won't) or romances?

 

I'm also not sure what you're basing the notion on that the dislike of, or opposition to, romances in games/RPGs is due to a prejudice to specific elements of human nature like romance. There are lots of other aspects of human nature that don't get much attention in games either. You don't see a lot of pooing in games either, and I'd say that's far more fundamental to human existence than romance (and far more relevant to warfare as well). Mostly, these are things that are just not very central to the reasons people play the game in the first place, and including them would be more effort than it's worth. 

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Further, almost every aspect of an RPG is something that only a "minor % of playerbase" is ever going to see. A lot of people who played PoE never finished the game. There are some mechanics in the game that have eluded people, including myself, and there are toooons of dialogue options that you can't choose unless you decide to be of certain race or background at the beginning of the game. PoE is a game all about choices and consequences, and because people make different choices, they're going to experience the story in certain ways and miss things that other people saw. For example, if your character has high Might, you can intimidate people. If your character doesn't have high Might, then, of course, that option will not be open to you. There are so many choices in the game that only show up to a "minor % of playerbase," so saying that another mechanic that follows in the same vein should not be implemented would therefore mean NOTHING should be left up to player choice. If you really think that's the case, why do you play RPGs?

 

That doesn't really compare though. Sure, plenty more people will see the beginning of the game than the end. On the other hand, it's conceptually impossible to not have an end to the game (even if you'd want to). Romances are entirely optional, however. 

 

As for the conditional dialogue options, those will indeed be seen by only a subset of players. But these are very minor, they generally add flavour and maybe a small change in gameplay (you resolve a confrontation peacefully instead of fighting, you get an item) but not much else; they're mostly very self-contained, different branches of dialogue will quickly converge back onto a finite set of outcomes. The choices you made in this regard usually have no impact on the rest of the game (except through generic mechanisms like dispositions and reputation and such). This makes them attractive from a development point of view, because the investment is typically just a couple of lines of dialogue being added, some differences in the quest log and whatnot. There will be exceptions to some degree, NPC-specific quests are inherently an example of that as well, but the degree to which such kind of content is included definitely has to be weighed against its cost. And given the sketchy track-record of romances in RPGs and games in general and the fact that its appeal is rather more limited than general NPC quests and content, there are plenty of good arguments against including them.

 

As for player choice, I don't really see how romances in themselves really add to that. They offer the choice of pursuing the romance or not, but then again that applies to any content; I can choose to do the NPC quests or not, I can choose to do any of the optional side-quests or not. It gets you stuff and experience points, but by themselves they can still be entirely linear. Romances in games generally are fairly as well, so in that regard they don't offer a clear added value above more general optional (NPC-specific or otherwise) quests. And of course you can make a more branching romance, but the same applies to any other quest or content as well.  

 

 

That's an interesting point, if a little disheartening. I don't see why games have to only be about business sense; though I do understand that money is important to a lot of people, and big games with branching paths and complicated systems cannot be made without it, unless of course the writers and programmers were willing to work for free (highly unlikely :p). Also, there is the argument that PoE was only possible because of all the Kickstarter Backers who supported the project. It's understandable that the project should be what the Backers want. However, there are games that are made by one person, and this freedom allows for a story and gameplay not constrained by what the investors and the audience want. Because of this, I don't think all games are merely "commercial ventures," nor do I think they have to be in order to be successful. I agree that video games are not usually a "platform for budding writers"; yet on the other hand, I don't see why they can't be. A story also doesn't have to be told by a writer; gameplay is just as strong a force for narrative. In my original post, I didn't mean to say that the design of the game should be up to individual writers--I only meant that it would be cool if people did away with strong prejudices toward certain elements of human nature, like romance.

 

They don't have to be about money and business sense alone, in my experience it works out better if the people making it can be creative and put something of themselves into it. But money is the bottom line, it's what makes it possible to make the game in the first place. And in a more general sense, money and successful games are what makes it possible for a compaby to continue to make games. 

 

This equation doesn't change because of Kickstarter backing, there is still a finite amount of money which can be converted into a finite amount of game content. It will tend to result in backers influencing that content, but that should only go so far; it's not a democracy, it's up to the developers to make the decisions and try to make it a good game. Besides, I'm not so sure such a large proportion of backers would consider romances all that crucial anyway.

 

Moreover, the equation still doesn't change when a game is being developed by a single individual. It still takes time and money to do so, and it's hardly guaranteed to result in a better game if there's one person making all the decisions for it. It's no different from any other creative medium, most of the things people create are mediocre at best; because it takes talent and imagination and practice and a lot of work to make something that's actually good. A random dude making a game in his spare time having all those qualities... the odds are fairly bleak on that. And even if he does manage to pull it of, what makes you think that game *will* contain extensively branching content (it won't) or romances?

 

I'm also not sure what you're basing the notion on that the dislike of, or opposition to, romances in games/RPGs is due to a prejudice to specific elements of human nature like romance. There are lots of other aspects of human nature that don't get much attention in games either. You don't see a lot of pooing in games either, and I'd say that's far more fundamental to human existence than romance (and far more relevant to warfare as well). Mostly, these are things that are just not very central to the reasons people play the game in the first place, and including them would be more effort than it's worth. 

 

I agree that games take imagination, time, and dedication. However, there are tons of games made by people in their free time with branching paths--or, at the least, with choices and consequences: http://www.gamesradar.com/10-games-developed-entirely-one-person/ , https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-games-designed-and-built-by-only-one-person

 

I'm basing "the notion [ . . . ] that the dislike of, or opposition to, romances in games/RPGs is due to a prejudice to specific elements of human nature like romance" on posts like the one Nonek made, but I realize now that I was being hasty. Hatred for romance topics on forums seems more-so to be a dislike for people like me, rather than for a specific aspect of human nature.

 

It makes sense that a lot of aspects of human nature don't get talked about in video games. But there are games about cancer (http://www.thatdragoncancer.com/#home), games about feces (http://store.steampowered.com/app/449540/), and games that aren't scripted in a traditional, linear manner (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoUKgEuskMs). I think it's a bit unfair to say that "these are things that are just not very central to the reasons people play the game in the first place," because there seems to be a demand for these games; they seem to be filling a void in story-telling and/or interaction that couldn't be achieved through a novel or some other medium. But if you're talking specifically about PoE, then I see your point and have to agree that people have myriad other reasons to play the game than the reasons I've talked about. In fact, I'm a bit anxious that my original post might not have been on-topic for this section of the forum because I think I'm more-so talking about games in general rather than PoE specifically.

 

 

 

 
Well that escalated quickly :-P Yes, it's true, many RPGs, PoE including, are built on the premise of content changing and adjusting based on player choice. Most of the time however, content can be reused and reshuffled as needed in order to maximize feeling of player impact while minimizing work necessary to achieve such end. If you wrote a fully fledged romance however, we're basically talking a huge dead branch of vastly different content which can't really be used anywhere else - I'd prefer that effort going into fleshing out the non-romance aspects of a companion.

 

 

I'm sorry about that. I meant to use the question as a rhetorical device, but now I see that my response was heavy-handed and extremely rude. I'll try to be more careful.

 

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I agree that games take imagination, time, and dedication. However, there are tons of games made by people in their free time with branching paths--or, at the least, with choices and consequences: http://www.gamesradar.com/10-games-developed-entirely-one-person/ , https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-games-designed-and-built-by-only-one-person
 

I'm basing "the notion [ . . . ] that the dislike of, or opposition to, romances in games/RPGs is due to a prejudice to specific elements of human nature like romance" on posts like the one Nonek made, but I realize now that I was being hasty. Hatred for romance topics on forums seems more-so to be a dislike for people like me, rather than for a specific aspect of human nature.

It makes sense that a lot of aspects of human nature don't get talked about in video games. But there are games about cancer (http://www.thatdragoncancer.com/#home), games about feces (http://store.steampowered.com/app/449540/), and games that aren't scripted in a traditional, linear manner (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoUKgEuskMs). I think it's a bit unfair to say that "these are things that are just not very central to the reasons people play the game in the first place," because there seems to be a demand for these games; they seem to be filling a void in story-telling and/or interaction that couldn't be achieved through a novel or some other medium. But if you're talking specifically about PoE, then I see your point and have to agree that people have myriad other reasons to play the game than the reasons I've talked about. In fact, I'm a bit anxious that my original post might not have been on-topic for this section of the forum because I think I'm more-so talking about games in general rather than PoE specifically.

 

Sure, there are plenty of games about all manner of subjects. But those are games *about those subjects*; if you're playing those, then those are part of the central themes and defining features of the game, and we can reasonably assume that they are fairly central to why people play them. Roleplaying games have a very different focus however, and an audience that matches that focus (or vice versa). And that focus, I would argue, does not centrally involve romance. The average fantasy RPG player isn't playing the game for the romance; some will still enjoy it if it's there (though other will abhor it), but it's still a fairly peripheral, and non-essential, aspect of it. I don't see what is unfair about pointing this out. And this is not PoE specific, I would think; it applies generally to this type of game. 

 

Yes, as you mention there is certainly a market for all kinds of different themes and gameplay in games, I'm not contesting that. But those audience don't necessarily overlap, it is not evident that there is a market for fantasy RPGs with a strong romantic component (or more generally, that having a romantic component would be a significant selling point for it). And even and to the extent that those audiences do overlap, it is still not a given that they would like the combination. For example, I can certainly appreciate a good Jane Austen movie, and I also enjoy a good action movie; I doubt I would appreciate a movie that combines the two, however (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies was crap anyway, though admittedly anything with zombies in it is bound to). 

 

Don't get me wrong, I would love a sprawling large game with all sorts of branching paths, where the outcome and the game world itself significantly changes depending on all the choices that I make while playing. But I'm an analytically inclined pragmatist, and quite aware of the obstacles in accomplishing this. Genuine branching exponentially increases the amount of work that needs to be done to achieve the same average game length. Time and money and other resources are always finite, and it very much in question whether that kind of branching would be worth the cost in that respect. 

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My main problem with romances is me. Or to be more precise: my character.

 

I don't buy that my companions fall in love with him. Not just lusting after him, but falling deeply, madly in love. Like "love of my life" and all that. My question is: what do they see in me, what I can't? It's not my strong personality, for sure. Maybe they get horny when they see me killing everything.

 

What I mean is, my character has technically no personality to fall in love with, while everybody acts like I am the most special person on the planet. That puts me out of the game and let the companions look like very desperate people, since they put way more effort in the relationship than me. 

 

Obsidian got it right in Alpha Protocol with Mike and Mina. You could feel the chemistry, because they had something for each other: for Mike it was somebody to trust and for Mina it was the excitement Mike represents. It may take time until it develops in real "love", but at least you could understand why they lusted and cared for each other. It helped that Mike was a real character. Most of the time he was kind of a bastard, but it suited him.

 

As for Pillars: This is one story, where I couldn't imagine how to start a romance. I mean, I'm on the run and have nightmares, I want to be left alone, I have no time for flirting!

 

If we implement a romance in the game, it should be part of the mainstory, not just a side-quest. Because good romance needs time and ressources, love has not only ups but a lot of downs. 

Edited by Harry Easter
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I very much like your post. All these are things i can understand, and i guess you're right (though, who said having a personality is needed to be loved? while i look around me in real life, i tend to have some doubts it's needed lol. Ok, let's put the trolls aside :D).

 

Didn't play Alpha Protocol, but at least, i see your point. And in Pillars... It's true that you can play the kind that is unapprochable, because of said nightmares, because you're on the run, and because you have plenty of things to think about and no time for love.

 

But i tend to think that there are things that come at the most unexpected moments, disregarding the fact that you may be unprepared. And i think that love, in its essence, is not necessarily rational. Don't know, maybe the fact that you're struggling with nightmares, your fears, your destiny, the fact that it looks like you're done for if you don't find the guys who awakened you, but still going forward regardless of all these things, could be one of the possible reasons why someone who is by your side all the time (one companion) comes to be touched by your character's predicament. And that could be the start of something. It's just one possible pattern. One where your character is not left alone while he would have been tempted to isolate himself.

 

And obviously, this one pattern could probably not work if it were designed as just a "one shot side quest". It needs to be developped all along the main story, somewhat like Durance side quest is using dialogue (and definitely not like Caroc's one). And this should take months (in game time) to complete. At least, i can definitely see the kind of roleplay value this kind of thing could bring to my character development. Although it's true that if you play the fearless kind of character, this one pattern i talk about may not work either, and this is where the difficulties start while designing such a thing. I think romances tend to be bland because thay have to work with whatever roleplay the player have. And as such, it's easier to start from the companion, who have defined personality and may have this or this problem. It was the case in BG. And it felt weird, while you should hurry to go save Imoen that you could take your time to listen Aerie's complaints all the time. Well... nobody said it's an easy thing to design.

 

Designing such plot romance would indeed take time. But i feel that people saying "it's not worth it spending resources for it" basically say "Since i would rather have several more traditional side quests, and because i'm not interested in romance stuff, i wouldn't want this romance stuff to deprive me of these side quests". While i definitely can't say they are wrong, i feel this is highly subjective. Because while it's true some resources are needed for both, in the end, it's a matter of taste. And in these times, i guess the majority wins ^^.

Edited by Abel

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OP pretty much voiced my own thoughts on this subject, as I already wrote about PoE, back when it was in development.

 

I don't advocate 'romance' for the sake of romance. But sex and love are part of what makes us human. ( or elf and dwarf, I suppose ). Not including it deducts from how believable I find an RPG. Whether because of true love, or selfish interests, or simply as an exchange of favours. Time and again I wonder what it is that makes us embrace violence so fervently, and yet shy away from any kind of sexual innuendo and even more so, the act itself. Not to mention the deeper feelings involved in actual love.

 

What kind of story would 'Gone with the Wind' be without the triangle drama between, Brett, Ashley and Scarlet? And that works on all levels. Base desire. Affection. Love. Even misguided love.

 

In my opinion, Dragon Age: Origins did it really well with Morrigan. You can have an affair with her on all those levels, but in the end, she'll not be persuaded to abandon her own goals. In spite of what she may or may not feel. And that goes if the protagonist and her hate each other as well.

Edited by TMZuk

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I don't advocate 'romance' for the sake of romance. But sex and love are part of what makes us human. ( or elf and dwarf, I suppose ). Not including it deducts from how believable I find an RPG. Whether because of true love, or selfish interests, or simply as an exchange of favours. Time and again I wonder what it is that makes us embrace violence so fervently, and yet shy away from any kind of sexual innuendo and even more so, the act itself. Not to mention the deeper feelings involved in actual love.

 

What kind of story would 'Gone with the Wind' be without the triangle drama between, Brett, Ashley and Scarlet? And that works on all levels. Base desire. Affection. Love. Even misguided love.

 

Then again, what kind of movie would Pearl Harbour have been without the love triangle? Including sex and romance doesn't work equally well in every genre, is my point. Not every core aspect of human existence needs to be represented in every work of fiction. If it did, there'd have to be a lot more food and excrement as well; both are far more fundamental than romance, after all. 

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I very much like your post. All these are things i can understand, and i guess you're right (though, who said having a personality is needed to be loved? while i look around me in real life, i tend to have some doubts it's needed lol. Ok, let's put the trolls aside :D).

 

Didn't play Alpha Protocol, but at least, i see your point. And in Pillars... It's true that you can play the kind that is unapprochable, because of said nightmares, because you're on the run, and because you have plenty of things to think about and no time for love.

 

But i tend to think that there are things that come at the most unexpected moments, disregarding the fact that you may be unprepared. And i think that love, in its essence, is not necessarily rational. Don't know, maybe the fact that you're struggling with nightmares, your fears, your destiny, the fact that it looks like you're done for if you don't find the guys who awakened you, but still going forward regardless of all these things, could be one of the possible reasons why someone who is by your side all the time (one companion) comes to be touched by your character's predicament. And that could be the start of something. It's just one possible pattern. One where your character is not left alone while he would have been tempted to isolate himself.

 

And obviously, this one pattern could probably not work if it were designed as just a "one shot side quest". It needs to be developped all along the main story, somewhat like Durance side quest is using dialogue (and definitely not like Caroc's one). And this should take months (in game time) to complete. At least, i can definitely see the kind of roleplay value this kind of thing could bring to my character development. Although it's true that if you play the fearless kind of character, this one pattern i talk about may not work either, and this is where the difficulties start while designing such a thing. I think romances tend to be bland because thay have to work with whatever roleplay the player have. And as such, it's easier to start from the companion, who have defined personality and may have this or this problem. It was the case in BG. And it felt weird, while you should hurry to go save Imoen that you could take your time to listen Aerie's complaints all the time. Well... nobody said it's an easy thing to design.

 

Designing such plot romance would indeed take time. But i feel that people saying "it's not worth it spending resources for it" basically say "Since i would rather have several more traditional side quests, and because i'm not interested in romance stuff, i wouldn't want this romance stuff to deprive me of these side quests". While i definitely can't say they are wrong, i feel this is highly subjective. Because while it's true some resources are needed for both, in the end, it's a matter of taste. And in these times, i guess the majority wins ^^.

 

Well, you are right that love isn't rational in RL. But in fiction, especially in video games. It's all about the numbers and the choices to get the numbers high. Buuut, you are also right, that the illusion of passing time is a very important factor for video games. Dragon Age 2 solved this quite good, with skipping the story whole years ahead. That was good, but it shows that CRPG have kind of an pacing problem. The better I get, the faster I'm through, so instead of winning BG 2 in a year in-game, I solved everything plus Throne of Bhaal in 100 days and me and Aerie swear eternal to each other (btw Aerie is still the best romance in all Biowaregames  :yes: ). I was to good for the story to unfold.

 

Divinity: Original Sin solved this also good. Of course the relationship between the characters stays stable, but you don't know what comes AFTER the game. Will they fall in love or hate it each other. In my case, they become lovers in both playthroughs. Yay :grin: . But the question "will they, won't they?" is still a effective storytelling-trope.

 

And I can understand your points, about romance in Pillars, but come on, what would romantic dialogue read like in the game?

 

Pallegina: I heard you screaming last night and my heart broke a little. You know, you can always cuddle with me if you feel anxious.

 

Watcher: Uh, thanks Pallegina. 

 

Pallegina: I also think that you look kinda hot when you awake and look so disoriented, rawrrrrr.

 

Watcher: THANKS PALLEGINA, BUT I AM NOT INTERESTED!

 

Pallegina: Oh, because you like them elvish, what? Don't you think I don't see how Aloth looks at you!

 

Watcher: Aloth?

 

Aloth (wiggles with his eyebrows): She is right, you know. Pain suits you, rawrrrrrr.

 

Watcher: *Sigh* 

 

It would be like a nurse falling in love with her patient ;) . 

 

 

OP pretty much voiced my own thoughts on this subject, as I already wrote about PoE, back when it was in development.

 

I don't advocate 'romance' for the sake of romance. But sex and love are part of what makes us human. ( or elf and dwarf, I suppose ). Not including it deducts from how believable I find an RPG. Whether because of true love, or selfish interests, or simply as an exchange of favours. Time and again I wonder what it is that makes us embrace violence so fervently, and yet shy away from any kind of sexual innuendo and even more so, the act itself. Not to mention the deeper feelings involved in actual love.

 

What kind of story would 'Gone with the Wind' be without the triangle drama between, Brett, Ashley and Scarlet? And that works on all levels. Base desire. Affection. Love. Even misguided love.

 

In my opinion, Dragon Age: Origins did it really well with Morrigan. You can have an affair with her on all those levels, but in the end, she'll not be persuaded to abandon her own goals. In spite of what she may or may not feel. And that goes if the protagonist and her hate each other as well.

 

Well, violence can you make powerful and there is still distance between you and your enemy. Sex makes you feeling very vulnerable and uncomfortable, since you get very intimate with someone, you may think you like but you maybe don't really know etcetc. 

  

As for Morrigan: Good point, but I think it is less about her wanting power, but more about her trust-issues. Her love-story is interesting, because for me it never felt like a romance between two adults, but more some kind of puppy-love a young girl in the body of a grown-up woman feels for the first person, that was ever nice to her. That's why this romance was always doomed ... until you could get your Happy-End in the DLC Witch Hunt.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Harry Easter

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If you look at Poe's ancestor BG2, you can easily see how a romance in a story and character driven game can be annoying.

To actually see the majority of the content of one character, you HAVE to romance her/him (in BG2 Anomen is the worst in this regard).

 

You could, of course, put all the content out for everyone (romancing or not), and just alter/add/remove certain lines depending on the kind of relationship. Bioware did a vaguely similar thing with Mass Effect, and imo even did it quite well...

 

IMO, romances are great in traditional JRPGs, where you can't customise your character's personality that much (if at all), and thus, the writers can focus on the development of the relationship. Often, like in Final Fantasy, the romance is even an important part of the main plot.

In cRPGs, romances are usually either bad, forced (like in BG2, though they are well written) or unnecessary...

Thus I would rather see intellectual or personal relationships between characters (MC or not) that fit in the rest of the game than having forced, unnecessary or - worst of all - BAD romances.

 

This all from the perspective that I got no idea how the story in Pillars of Eternity plays out xD ...yet...

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