On the romance options

@nickclark89 said in On the romance options:

lgbtq people are interested in romance in rpgs because it's the only way to be a lgbtq main character in videogames, but we do care about other aspects of the game, just this is something we care the most because it let us be ourselves and being represented, because mainstream media in videogames dont give a damn about us (a few games are breaking the mold Tlou, LiS, and that's pretty much all)

Nicely put. I think if the devs follow up and improve upon what they did for Andrew, that would be quite great!

For me, as a gay guy, the romance option(s) is a big draw for me. I'm looking forward to learning more about the game. 😉

I've had this thread bookmarked and was hoping for updates. The thing that drew me to Greedfall was that they created Andrew so well in Technomancer. But I did want to chime in and offer a viewpoint about this:

@ said in On the romance options:

For reasons that will be obvious when you will discover the game and the universe, we didn't went for all bi companions. However, we're deeply convinced that everyone will find its happiness in the romance options.

I sincerely hope you'll reconsider. I greatly prefer bi-towards-the-player (like Stardew Valley--but ideally with pre-scripted orientations they'll follow if the player doesn't show an interest) for one incredibly important reason: it's the only way that my experience as a gay player can truly be equal to the experience of my hetero counterparts.

It means that everyone can experience all aspects of what the game has to offer, without being forced to compromise who they themselves are. If I find a particular male character more interesting than the one that's written as gay, why should I be denied access to that story arc with my character? Why should I expect that aspect of a game to mirror a reality I'm playing games to escape?

It also really breaks my suspension of disbelief if I can't romance a character just because I'm playing a male character, but he won't experience a similar lack of attraction if someone used character creation tools to create the ugliest and most deformed female character they can imagine--if you can't create a character who's too unattractive to be romanced, why would any aspect of attraction be relevant to the gameplay?

And though it may or may not apply here, player-character personality and ethics also don't serve as a deal-breaker in romance schemes, even though gender does. I don't think that inconsistent standard works well for games and it does damage my suspension of disbelief. Gay people run the full extent of human existence, so that one characteristic would not realistically change anything about who the character is. If Final Fantasy 8 were rewritten with Rinoa as a man, nothing about those characters, the plot, or anything beyond gender articles in dialog, would be affected in any way.

Set orientations only serve to limit the player, and ultimately, they don't add anything of value to the experience because they're incapable of affecting anything of relevance.

last edited by trekwiz

Fair points all but it is important to keep in mind they are under no obligation to include romances at all. A little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing.

@red-leader said in On the romance options:

Fair points all but it is important to keep in mind they are under no obligation to include romances at all. A little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing.

Of course they're not obligated to do anything--I'm simply requesting it because it's something I want to see more of in my games.

I feel extremely under-served as a gaymer and this is one of those areas where my gaming experience could easily be equal if developers followed the same philosophy for gender-neutral romances as they do for the rest of the gender-neutral style towards the protagonist.

It's a relatively easy change of mindset that would appeal to those of us who don't have many options in the current marketplace.

I'm going to guess its story related why they aren't going all bi. That is the impression they gave me anyway. We will see if that is a good enough reason or not.

I have mixed feelings about all bi-romances. I mean yeah it's fun to be able to romance whoever you like but it also makes me uncomfortable to change how people feel and think just so my character can date them. Yes I know they are just video game characters, lumps of pixel and what-not, so it's not like any actual people are being hurt, but it still doesn't sit well with me.

I'm the kind of person who never picks the 'mean' options in games because I don't like hurting my companions feelings, so changing their sexuality just so I can engage in frick-frack-snick-snack (what's the rating on these boards?) with them feels disrespectful.

On another note, I wonder if companions are the only characters you can romance or if there are any non-party options.

@red-leader said in On the romance options:

I'm going to guess its story related why they aren't going all bi. That is the impression they gave me anyway. We will see if that is a good enough reason or not.

I'm always skeptical when a dev makes that claim, because it's inherently weak--there are no "story reasons" that I'm gay in the real world, I just am. Orientations run the full range of people. At 35, I've yet to see a single compelling "story reason" in any media to tie a character to a specific orientation.

I've never found that logic compelling from content creators; it's a signal that the writers have preconceptions of what kind of people comprise each orientation, and that's a very ugly path to go down. At its most basic, it communicates immediately that the writer just doesn't understand orientation at all, and I'm left waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's a red flag that tells me I should wait to buy until I can see some Lets Plays about the romances, because I'm likely to see a caricature instead of good representation.

And in some more high profile cases, like Bioware's explanation of why Jaal was made bi (apparently an alien with different gender norms is more believable as bi than the average human man in a culture with North American gender norms--and they didn't think that communicating this was offensive), attempting to create story reasons usually trends towards homophobia.

@fortune86 said in On the romance options:

I have mixed feelings about all bi-romances. I mean yeah it's fun to be able to romance whoever you like but it also makes me uncomfortable to change how people feel and think just so my character can date them.

But that's just it, isn't it? The ways in which romances are coded, you're always "changing how people feel and think just so your character can date them." There's no way to avoid it. That's essentially the point of the feature: to get your fantasy. Fundamentally, that should be available to all players, just like any other feature.

No one is attracted to all members of the sex they're attracted to--I have yet to see any RPG where you can use the character creator to come up with a design that the romance options find physically repulsive. They're attracted to the player character regardless of physical attraction; so that's railroading the character into feeling and thinking something just for you.

In most RPGs with romance, your character's personality isn't capable of repelling the romance option. Always choose the rude dialog option? Doesn't matter, the character is still forced to think and feel a certain way to appease the player-character.

They rarely have minor pet peeves that ruin their interest. They really hate green because it reminds them of a childhood trauma, you designed a 100% green outfit, and hey, they're madly in love with you. They don't like pets, but you've added every possible one to your collection? You're getting married! Did you add scars to the character because you imagined them in a really nasty bar fight? The romance option never judges you for it. You couldn't possibly code for every scenario that a person would lose interest for another person--and of all the possible ones, gender is the least believable from a gameplay perspective.

I have yet to see a point against bi-towards-the-player (which is slightly different than just being bi) that isn't immersion-breaking. At its essence, the point of the feature is that you get to be the hero who rides off into the sunset having saved the world with your chosen lover at your side. Romanceable characters are just a prop to complete the fantasy--but it doesn't work that way if they're selectively unavailable for a few arbitrary reasons, but not for others.

On another note, I wonder if companions are the only characters you can romance or if there are any non-party options.

I definitely want more info, too. Though since we're also talking about wishful thinking and the things we want out of games, I'd really like to just see more of us in these worlds, too. Not just in the party, not just romanceable side characters, I want to see us living in the world beyond the player's little social circles. We're everywhere--except in our media.

I have yet to see a point against bi-towards-the-player (which is slightly different than just being bi) that isn't immersion-breaking. At its essence, the point of the feature is that you get to be the hero who rides off into the sunset having saved the world with your chosen lover at your side. Romanceable characters are just a prop to complete the fantasy--but it doesn't work that way if they're selectively unavailable for a few arbitrary reasons, but not for others.

I'm all up for game devs providing fanservice / virtuesignalling with companions. Everybody's bi/playersexual has been done in plenty of games, just off the top of my head, Fable, Dragon Age 2, Dragon's Dogma, I'm sure there's more. Sure it is as you say immersion-breaking but also a power fantasy about you the hero saving the world.
Hopefully though, they can write some companions that are more than "This tired trope. Oh, and also he's of this sexuality" the character.
BBF. The healer woman trope. The witch who snarks on you all the time, aka Morrigan from Dragon Age trope. The funny skeletor gentleman. And some other characters so boring they're not even worth mentioning.
That's a whole one character that has interesting dialogue lines that you go through because they're interesting, not spacebar through them in hopes he hands out a companion quest. In the whole game. Meh.
Technomancer. The rogue trope. The butch shield tank trope. The disabled gay man, no other personality traits. The big orc man, no other personality traits. Nobody interesting to talk to in your camp. Spacebar, spacebar, spacebar. No quest this time, ok bye.
To be fair Spiders are improving from game to game, and they had more dev time on Greedfall, so there's some hope for companions yet, regardless which way they swing.

@havox said in On the romance options:

Everybody's bi/playersexual has been done in plenty of games, just off the top of my head, Fable, Dragon Age 2, Dragon's Dogma, I'm sure there's more. Sure it is as you say immersion-breaking but also a power fantasy about you the hero saving the world.

I think you've misread: I'm saying player-sexual is more desirable because it's not immersion-breaking. Because, yes, as you say, it's the fantasy about being the hero saving the world, and that's what the gameplay experience is all about.

And because I get to unilaterally make a lot of choices through the game, so why block me from this one choice just because the writer's personal bias made them think the character was more believable with a particular orientation?

It's romanceable characters with fixed-orientations that is immersion-breaking. It just makes no sense to me why a character that looks like this can romance someone with no problem, but character gender is the deal-breaker? It's completely arbitrary and unnecessary.

That arbitrary nature of fixed-orientations always pulls my head out of the game and makes me wonder why the devs made such a silly decision.

Hopefully though, they can write some companions that are more than "This tired trope. Oh, and also he's of this sexuality" the character.

That I agree with, for the most part. But I don't know enough about what they're doing with Greedfall characters to comment there.

I only commented about the fixed-orientations because that's one of my biggest pet peeves in games; it arbitrarily locks players out of certain features for no benefit, and guarantees an unequal experience among players. It's a concept I just want to see go away completely, because there's no valid reason for it in an RPG in 2019.

Plenty of ugly people can land themselves a hot partner in real life.

It's much rarer for even a very attractive person to get together with someone who just isn't into their gender.

And even in video games romances don't always throw themselves at 'attractive' characters. You have to win their affections first via flirting and side quests and other interactions (I still feel bad about plying Mercedes with wine to get her to like me) in order to win their affections, which is probably as close as we can get to actual dating at the moment.

If Greedfall do go down the everyone is bi route I won't complain, but I also won't complain if they don't. All I care about is that the options I do have are well written and likeable.

@Fortune86 said in On the romance options:

Plenty of ugly people can land themselves a hot partner in real life.

It's much rarer for even a very attractive person to get together with someone who just isn't into their gender.

And even in video games romances don't always throw themselves at 'attractive' characters. You have to win their affections first via flirting and side quests and other interactions (I still feel bad about plying Mercedes with wine to get her to like me) in order to win their affections, which is probably as close as we can get to actual dating at the moment.

If Greedfall do go down the everyone is bi route I won't complain, but I also won't complain if they don't. All I care about is that the options I do have are well written and likeable.

This is effectively my stance and my final peace on this.

Characters don't need to mirror the real-world behaviors that aren't conducive to the player's fantasy. That's a basic expectation we have from games--most players wouldn't be happy if they had to restart the game because the bubonic plague wiped out their save file. Most don't want their romance options to have overly visible destroyed teeth, bad breath, and syphilis from life in Medieval times. Or how about the fan favorite, "realistic reason to make character walk at 1/4 speed"?

There are aspects of real life that make for bad gameplay--romance options being inaccessible because you played the wrong gender is one of them. Especially because the player is never "not my type" unless you pick the wrong gender; it's silly.

And even in video games romances don't always throw themselves at 'attractive' characters. You have to win their affections first via flirting and side quests

That's exactly my point, though. Attraction is an irrelevant consideration for romanceable characters in any game: I would even go so far as to say that if a realistic system of attraction were added, players would be upset. Could you imagine the uproar if various romanceable characters had randomly assigned features they weren't attracted to?

Your character is too short; too tall; too hairy; has too big of a chin; your genital slider (Conan Exiles) was set to the wrong size, etc--but they're randomly assigned every new save file to match the unpredictable nature of attraction. These are real things people lose interest over; but because it negatively impacts the gameplay experience, they wouldn't be included.

For me, romanceable characters that aren't player-sexual are in that category: it negatively impacts the gameplay experience. Because functionally, it gates content based on what's ultimately a cosmetic choice in the game.

Whether you play as male or female is essentially a decorative choice. It's the devs saying that because I made the "wrong" cosmetic choice, I'm not allowed to access my preferred storyline. It's a game design that says my ability to customize my play is going to be punished later. It adds penalties--for what in return? I've played that game; I'm over it.

It's a negative experience that is created for ultimately arbitrary reasons. It's not necessary, and the whole experience of playing games like these gets much better when the devs shift their mindset a little. It's not much different from the shift we expected when offering the choice of male and female characters became the norm.

All I care about is that the options I do have are well written and likeable.

I care about gameplay as much as story. If the characters were the sole concern, I'd be watching a movie or reading a book.

Just as NPCs being designed to interact with both male and female player-characters didn't negatively impact the story and characters, neither would this. It's an advance in this kind of gameplay that should similarly be expected--because there's really no compelling reason to keep making monosexual characters.

I also want to point out something that I think is missed when discussing RPG romances: the system already accounts for characters who are not interested in yours.

These are the characters who are already not romanceable: regardless of whether it's companions, your wider circle of support, or other NPCs, most of the characters in the world are not interested in romancing your character.

Romanceable characters represent the small pool of characters that are interested in your character. Denying access to portions of this already limited pool to certain types of players is an unnecessary gate to "accomplish" a goal that has already been accomplished without it.

I will not buy this game if it's two straight exclusive options and two bi options. Paying full price for half the romance content as everyone else is not acceptable. I know that much is for sure!

I'm assuming Siora and the Girl with hat in the trailer (I think I saw scene where they appear intimate in the trailer) are the main romance options for people playing a het male character. Off looks alone I'm leaning towards Siora, but personality wise I think I'll like the girl with the hat more, she gives me Jack from Mass Effect vibes. I'm a straight guy so take what say with a grain of salt, but I think it would be best to make everyone Bi. Since Spider has already confirmed they plan on going down the romance route. Why not give everyone the same amount of options and content, so that no specific group feels left out or underrepresented. I've never romanced a guy in a RPG, but if I could of romanced Garrus (Mass Effect) or Varric (Dragon Age) I would of.

last edited by KingDarius