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What do you think about the "romance" in RPG?


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I'm okay with romances/relationships provided -

 

The romance/relationship is built with the idea of not sublimating the character in favor of the PC

The romance isn't necessary to have an interesting NPC relationship.

 

BioWare games are pretty horribly guilty of the second offense, going all the way back to Baldur's Gate 2. In Baldur's Gate 2, most characters of the opposite sex will literally not talk to you outside of a few pre-scripted one-liners (interjections) sprinkled throughout the game unless you commit to a romance with them...and if you try to demur, welp, that's the end of all of their conversations. :p

 

 

Most of the characters period will not. The romance dialog series (which fired off randomly and created some really bizarrely timed conversations) were pretty much the only extended dialogs.

 

 

To be fair, they all had an extended dialogue associated with their personal quest line whether a romance option or not. So you still got the personal quest of the female romance options (Viconia, Aerie, Edwina) even if female yourself and you still got Anoarth Skyden's personal quest if you were male. You could even still drive the annoying git insane, iirc.

 

Ironically Bioware 'fixing' their spontaneous banter chains to be either '__ wants to talk to you' prompted or 'chat by the fireside' style led to far more chance of ending up accidentally ending up in a romance/ boinking by just being polite.

 

My problems with game romances are similar to other people's, ie they're not often done well but more done because a certain subgroup expect them to be there. I did like the approach in Witcher 3 though, with the possibility of you being dumped- best result for all concerned, so far as I'm concerned. Witcher 3 has the big advantage of being done with predetermined characters with backstory in the books and previous games though, which is obviously rather difficult if you're doing a blank slate character.

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I honestly believe that it usually detracts from the game. Some games do it well, but often enough it's just tacked on as "more content" or it doesn't mean anything. There's always the way the Witcher series handles it, ie the "Let's do it" method, which is entertaining at least. Personally I liked the way it was handled in Divinity: Dragon Commander, where you pick the princess you marry, for whatever reason (love, political power, wealth), and you get to decide through your dialogue with your wife whether love blossoms forth.

 

Huh, never thought about it like that, but yeah you're right. It was part of the game (also the mechanics) and a more organic decision, since you maybe have to live with her for the rest of your life. When I think about romances, I think about Aerie from BG2. She still works for me, because she isn't always fun. In fact, she is exhausting, since she is sad and depressed and depressed people are not always fun. But those quirks turn her into her own character and make the romance a bit more complex, than other BW-Romances, where there isn't much conflict anymore (besides telling Morrigan that she should stop looking at me so creepy, brrr).

 

Personally I would like to play an RPG where the lovestory is the heart of it. Maybe an RPG, where both characters also depend mechanically on each other (not only that she uses the sword and he the bow, but maybe he can make healthy food and she makes wonderful mana cocgnac). It could work if the relationship would be ... work. There is more to romance than lust, flowers and fun.   

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Most of the time romance isn't needed in rpg's and feels tacked on. However, I've found romances always do best in action/adventure games. Not sure why this is but according to storytelling, it's much easier to pull off in that space, thus more successful...

 

Want romances with substance? Don't look in rpg's :) Unless you don't mind sillyness or the arkwardness that comes with it.

 

However, this may change in the future. As video games evolve, so does the story telling and the depth that comes with it.

Just what do you think you're doing?! You dare to come between me and my prey? Is it a habit of yours to scurry about, getting in the way and causing bother?

 

What are you still bothering me for? I'm a Knight. I'm not interested in your childish games. I need my rest.

 

Begone! Lest I draw my nail...

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Well, looking at how the AAA gaming design evolved in last few years, the only romance we will have in near future is paying for hookers in GTA VI with microtransactions ;)

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In short:

 

The problem, as I see it there is a problem and it is that pretty much all Romances are just like mini-games, like a puzzle or a maze of things you need to do right and often totally out of character somehow, because the game turns into more than just your choices, and once you've "beaten" them, it.. erm.. disappears and is replaced by a strange kind of moral compass, like a marriage or something, because it's somehow tied into the End game. If you break your "wovs" something else breaks in this game or the next or the third one.. Even though it adds to replay value I find it to be extremely annoying, but I really wouldn't want to be without it and the absence usually generates a feeling of an emptiness of sorts, there are just some senses that needs to be pulled in some ways to make a game feel complete, I wonder if I think that, hm, maybe, probably, who knows?! :biggrin:

 

Because I didn't have the time to make it short: :facepalm:

 

I also think Romance options are usually pretty nice until the point where a strange twist occurs, a writers block in motion or whatever and you are suddenly cornered by some strangely conservative, orthodox and archaic concept or feebleminded Christian virtue that severely hampers your progress and promiscuity.. Like that moment in Mass Effect where you suddenly find yourself up close and personal with an opportune moment for a nice threesome with you, smurfette and what's-her-name.. Which instead becomes an unwanted choice between one or the other, because for some odd reason you can never have both or more. Maybe that was just the way this particularly mix of characters were supposed to play out, but once it happens all the time it's something else entirely.. Seems to happen in every BioWare game with multiple Romance options - they are all incompatible. Even in SWTOR.. And then, once you have bagged another beaver the romance ends, all the hormonally charged dialogue options disappears and all you get is a stone face, at which point you realize it was just a mini-game, except it's still running somehow and will impact whatever End game you get.. And in the third installment you only get the big prize if you stayed abstinent in the second one.. Attention span, attention span, att.. That's just.. Erm.. Rude, somehow. There is a GRRR-HULK emoticon missing here.

 

Romances are nice, I like developers that add them, but there is an escape button missing.. My wife really doesn't need any more ammo to shoot down my gaming habits..Would be nice with some cover-up support. Some quick-switch to a really conservative, sharp and focused business like excel sheet screenview.. Just like in the old times on Atari ST where some games had a the-boss-is-coming-key that switched the view instantly to something else, something clean, sober and work-related that doesn't flicker when you switch. :disguise:

 

Anyway, have a nice day. :no:

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That's exactly right, romances are usually treated as mini-games in rpg's. That's why it gets the well deserved hate among people. That is indeed the problem here.

 

Trust me when I say that adding romances to a game, no matter how well done will not draw a female populus to the game or games in general. That is just a myth flying around the web. Look at the core genre that women streamers are playing... shooters. And that's not just because they're trying to be competitive but because the female populus in gaming likes to feel powerful. Guns make people feel powerful in games or in real life.

 

My wife thinks romances in games are creepy... with the way companies like Obsidian, Bioware, etc have treated them in the past I can definitely see why. So she tends to stick to games like Zelda and The Sims. Yes, The Sims has a better romance system than any rpg we've seen.. then again so does Stardew Valley (Stardew Valley is not an rpg but a simulator much like Sims but is confused with being an rpg quite often).

 

At this point, it looks like more guys are interested in having romances in video games. I'm looking at the reactions for Witcher's nude scenes and revolt for games getting censored on pc (which was just recently on news before the hurricanes came into play) Me, personally I don't care one way or the other. I just like to play good games, like Josh Sawyer said... Good satisfying romances are hard to pull off - of course it's easy to satisfy young hormone raging teens with a 5 second nudity script on screen but to create something truly meaningful has not been accomplished in rpg's. When you're married with kids, a 5 second sex scene is nothing to be excited about.

 

I feel like romances with actual purpose have been accomplished in other types of games though, which is quite odd since rpg's are regarded to having more in-depth stories than action/adventure (another myth). Maybe it's because rpg's have such an expansive script that they're afraid to dwindle the story by doing a justifiable romance? Who knows...

 

 

Meh. Oh well.

Just what do you think you're doing?! You dare to come between me and my prey? Is it a habit of yours to scurry about, getting in the way and causing bother?

 

What are you still bothering me for? I'm a Knight. I'm not interested in your childish games. I need my rest.

 

Begone! Lest I draw my nail...

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Stardew Valley's romance system is pretty much identical to those found in most RPGs though. You'll get relationship points mostly by giving people specific(ish) gifts up to twice a week and on birthdays, and the rest is dialogue choices in cutscenes, quests and clicking on them once a day. It's certainly a more involved and longer process overall than most RPGs, but its basic building blocks are very similar to, say, Dragon Age Origins (minus the small bonus if you do bother talking to them every day).

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Well, looking at how the AAA gaming design evolved in last few years, the only romance we will have in near future is paying for hookers in GTA VI with microtransactions ;)

Or a  $1,000 special edition of the game with hookers included.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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You should'a been at the Rockstar launch party.

It wouldn't even be the worst offender actually, introducing Saints Row's IV Wad Wad edition (I really hope that it was a joke)

 

https://www.theverge.com/2013/8/10/4608848/ludicrous-1-million-saints-row-iv-special-edition-includes

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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You should'a been at the Rockstar launch party.

It wouldn't even be the worst offender actually, introducing Saints Row's IV Wad Wad edition (I really hope that it was a joke)

 

https://www.theverge.com/2013/8/10/4608848/ludicrous-1-million-saints-row-iv-special-edition-includes

Oh my... oh dear.

Just what do you think you're doing?! You dare to come between me and my prey? Is it a habit of yours to scurry about, getting in the way and causing bother?

 

What are you still bothering me for? I'm a Knight. I'm not interested in your childish games. I need my rest.

 

Begone! Lest I draw my nail...

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Jacob's romance was good for the humour of Shepard being really creepy in it.

"Heavy risk, but the priiiiiiiize~"

 

tumblr_ljxan3WZKs1qj73soo1_500.jpg

 

Honestly, that was a symptom of not having a black writer on staff. I kinda understood what Bioware was trying to do. They were trying to make kind of a Fabio style non-serious romance with Jacob, but it backfired and came off creepy and vaguely racist (the hypersexual big buff black man and his Mandingo BBC). Me and like three other people are probably the few that romanced Jacob as a serious relationship. There's actually a moment where fem!Shepard says something really sexual to Jacob (in like, their 2nd conversation ever) and he (and me) are like "whoa Shepard, keep it in your pants."

 

And to make matters even worst, he cheats on Shepard and knocks up another woman in ME3. Again, had there been a black writer in the Bioware writer's room they would have told them that there's a harmful stereotype about black men and infidelity as well as black men supposedly cause a lot of unwanted pregnancies. Bioware -most likely- inadvertently enforced those harmful stereotypes due to their cultural ignorance. AKA I don't trust Bioware with black people anymore.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

Jacob's romance was good for the humour of Shepard being really creepy in it.

"Heavy risk, but the priiiiiiiize~"

 

tumblr_ljxan3WZKs1qj73soo1_500.jpg

 

Honestly, that was a symptom of not having a black writer on staff. I kinda understood what Bioware was trying to do. They were trying to make kind of a Fabio style non-serious romance with Jacob, but it backfired and came off creepy and vaguely racist (the hypersexual big buff black man and his Mandingo BBC). Me and like three other people are probably the few that romanced Jacob as a serious relationship. There's actually a moment where fem!Shepard says something really sexual to Jacob (in like, their 2nd conversation ever) and he (and me) are like "whoa Shepard, keep it in your pants."

 

And to make matters even worst, he cheats on Shepard and knocks up another woman in ME3. Again, had there been a black writer in the Bioware writer's room they would have told them that there's a harmful stereotype about black men and infidelity as well as black men supposedly cause a lot of unwanted pregnancies. Bioware -most likely- inadvertently enforced those harmful stereotypes due to their cultural ignorance. AKA I don't trust Bioware with black people anymore.

 

 

That's interesting. Everytime I talked about Jacob with people, the words we used were "boring", but the stereotypes you describe are relatively unknown here in germany. Funny story though: we (my sisters and me) thought that Jacob good interesting after the break-up with Shepard and his family, because he finally had a life, besides being the counterpart to Mirandas(s) not so femme-fatalish ways. 

Edited by Harry Easter
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bioware ruined crpg romance, but it weren't their fault.  their success redefined the debate.

 

repost from 2015:

 

as an aside, our stated dislike o' crpg romance is specific tied to the companion romances that became common after the release of bg2.  optional and tangential side-quest/mini-game romances is what we find to be... puerile.  
 
on the other hand, we thought ravel's love for tno, romantic or otherwise, were essential for our appreciation o' ps:t. the single most moving dialogue encounter we can recall from any crpg we has played is the one we had with the mebbeth incarnation o' ravel 'pon our return to sigil after plane hopping.  is not what promancers consider romance, but before the release o' bg2 we woulda' argued that the ravel's love for the ps:t protagonist were likely our favorite crpg romance, though perhaps there is a my little pony crpg we has yet to play that would dislodge ravel for our favored spot. 
 
the optional and tangential side-quest /mini-game romances has reshaped the nature o' the debate, perhaps for the worse. one wonders if the existence o' the companion romances actual decreases or inhibits the possibility o' a more mature kinda exploration and expressions o' love in crpgs. even developers reference game romance in terms more familiar to the promancer than what we woulda' seen back in 1999 or 2000. has the romance question irrevocably changed the nature o' the games?  we hope that is not the case.
 
end repost
 
 
"but let me assure you, this like any story worth telling... is all about a girl. that girl. the girl next door. mary jane watson."
 
repost: the problem for Gromnir regarding crpg romances is not that we hate romance.  the problem is that we like romance.  optional and tangential crpg romances is, by their very nature, flawed."
 
'course this is a well traveled road:
 
 
goes back in earnest in western cprgs to ladies o' neverwinter?  crpg romance has always been a topic, but bio sucess fundamental changed the debate.
 
HA! Good Fun!
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What I find interesting is the assumption that romance should with a party member and that when it isn't that it is somehow 'less'.  This viewpoint showed itself in the Deadfire thread about romances, where people expressed the opinion that the gay romances in ME3 were 'less' because they were mostly with non-party members.  I question this opinion, and actually feel that the requirement for it to be with party members to be harmful for the following reasons.

 

First off, party members are already under at least some control and power of the PC, making them romanceable often feels like an abuse of that power.  It already sets up the romance to be a power fantasy on the PC-part over their partner.  Most games also don't acknowledge this problem either, even when it would add to the story, Mass Effect for instance: banging either Ashley or Kaiden is clearly breaking the fraternisation rules and even leads to a conflict of interest with the Virmire choice, but instead of raising it the game EXPECTS you to rescue them as the situation is geared up that there is no other reason to choose between the two (though I have chosen against it sometimes because I wanted to stop them from raping me, when I have made the mistake of saying two words to them previously and being polite).  Its really creepy when you think on it.

 

Second, a non-party member opens up options a party member option limits.  You could get into a romance with the leader of a rival party, someone who not only isn't your subordinate but actually a competitor!  Or get into a compromising situation with a local ruler whose spouse tries to kill you over!  Or you could try and woo the Governor's Son or Daughter (or the Governor herself, Monkey Island style)!  Yet there seems to be 'tiers' in people's minds regarding 'quality' of romance options, with party members at the top and everyone else way, way down just because they are not party members.  Sad really...

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Sure, why not.

There are some games where romance/relation add to the game. For example Witcher 3 (imagine it without romance, you can, but...), or Life is Strange series (withotu relationship). Some of Bioware romances add some comedy (Poor Morigan in her cold, cold tent)

Romane is also handy as Maltanese Falcon. To just push plot, or give enought motivation. Maybe it is cheese, but B plot is better than no plot.

There is also value in having an option. Like with classes, maybe i will just play Paladin but having 10 class to choose from is great.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Well the fact that action games still have more realistic tomances than any rpg has til this day makes it noticible to me and makes those romances more memorable and meaninful. I suppose one can make plenty of arguments for this if one truly feels they must defend rpg's tacky romances but I'm just remaining realistic here.

 

Rather that someone coming around and asking "But Sonic, what action games have a good romance?" Which would tell me that person may not have too much experience with romance knowledge in games, I'll ask "Can you name me a few action games which put any rpg romance to shame? You should easily be able to at this point". Unless of course people still blindly consider a 5 second cut-scene with nudity as a cutscene that is....

Just what do you think you're doing?! You dare to come between me and my prey? Is it a habit of yours to scurry about, getting in the way and causing bother?

 

What are you still bothering me for? I'm a Knight. I'm not interested in your childish games. I need my rest.

 

Begone! Lest I draw my nail...

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