Author Topic: In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?  (Read 1021 times)

Legacy_Vaalyah

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« on: September 09, 2010, 09:38:00 pm »


               I am perplexed by OC romances. You just see a character few times and you just speak... or better, listen to him/her while s/he speaks about his/her story. At the end of this, s/he just says something like "I feel really in touch with you, hmmmm I think I'm falling for you"
WHAT???  '<img'> you just don't know ANYTHING about me (true because s/he is the only one who is always speaking). How is it possible to develop a romance with those NPCs? I mean, I can't feel the involvement of a romance developed in this way.

I would like to hear your opinions about that. '^_^'
               
               

               


                     Modifié par Vaalyah, 09 septembre 2010 - 08:40 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_Wensleydale

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2010, 05:16:15 am »


               You can't really simulate romance in a computer game without it appearing at least a little forced, awkward or unintentionally hilarious. Kudos to those developers willing to try though.



As it stands we have the following system:



(From the perspective of the NPC you fancy...)



1. Chat.

2. Act according to my alignment.

3. Chat a bit more.

4. Do something heroic/villainous to impress me further.

5. Chat again and accept a personal quest.

6. Complete my personal quest.

7. Chat with saucy undertones.

8. Embark upon further adventures in accordance with my alignment.

9. Blatantly saucy chat followed by family friendly sex scene.



And that's about as much as you can hope for given current technological limitations and a lack of imagination on the part of game designers. Not that I could do any better mind you. For what it is, it works well enough I think.



For a game to imitate real life, developers would be compelled to include the following additional steps:



10. Get married.

11. Have children. (Who will grow up to be self-absorbed ingrates who treat you as a national embarrassment to be mocked and derided unless they want a few gold pieces or need to borrow the warhorse.)

12. After years of quiet desperation, realise you and your spouse can no longer bear to look at each other.

13. Commence divorce proceedings, during which you'll be financially emasculated and end up living in a manure hut in the middle of a wind-blasted moor.

14. Your golden years spent in an alcohol-induced stupor, you finally succumb to pneumonia. Or syphilis. You're old and it's hard to tell.

15. Your lice-ridden carcass is devoured by wolves.



Not terribly romantic, but relatively true to life I believe.

               
               

               
            

Legacy_HipMaestro

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2010, 06:16:24 am »


               

Wensleydale wrote...
 Not that I could do any better mind you.

I think you missed your calling.

Wensleydale wrote.
For a game to imitate real life, developers would be compelled to include the following additional steps:
10. Get married.
11. Have children. (Who will grow up to be self-absorbed ingrates who treat you as a national embarrassment to be mocked and derided unless they want a few gold pieces or need to borrow the warhorse.)
12. After years of quiet desperation, realise you and your spouse can no longer bear to look at each other.
13. Commence divorce proceedings, during which you'll be financially emasculated and end up living in a manure hut in the middle of a wind-blasted moor.
14. Your golden years spent in an alcohol-induced stupor, you finally succumb to pneumonia. Or syphilis. You're old and it's hard to tell.
15. Your lice-ridden carcass is devoured by wolves.

So, essentially what you are suggesting is that my own life be made an open book?

':crying:'':blink:''<img'>
               
               

               
            

Legacy_Shia Luck

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2010, 12:08:59 pm »


               *giggling @ Wensleydale & Hip*

...but somehow I feel that's the male PC version. The girly version is a bit more like:


1 chat because girls like chatting

2 Go do a quest cos he wouldn't chat much

3 try chatting again

4 Go do a quest cos although we got him to chat he tended to talk all about himself.

5 chat more and accept a personal quest.. it's that or listen to how he slayed the dragon... again '<img'>

6 complete personal qwest

7 chat with saucy undertones (ahhh finally he's noticed me yay!)

8 Go do a quest cos he's still not asking me anything about me

9 suddenly get propositioned for sex with the lights off...  ah well, best offer I'll get, no?

*cheeky grin*


But OC romances are really not the best. I agree with you Vaalyah. There's no depth or feeling there.

You need A Dance with Rogues if you want involving romance (and sex) in an amazing epic story.

Have fun '<img'>
               
               

               


                     Modifié par Shia Luck, 10 septembre 2010 - 11:17 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_B_Harrison

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2010, 12:51:48 pm »


               Hah!

Wensleydale wrote...

You can't really simulate romance in a computer game without it appearing at least a little forced, awkward or unintentionally hilarious. Kudos to those developers willing to try though.

I agree with this; I've never played a single player game in which the romances weren't dreadful, and/or not actually romantic in the least, including NWN's OCs. Few people are good writers, and even fewer are very romantic, so the odds are stacked against romantic dialogue in games...

Multiplayer is another matter, though, if you're lucky enough to find the right roleplayer(s).
               
               

               


                     Modifié par B_Harrison, 10 septembre 2010 - 11:53 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_jmlzemaggo

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2010, 01:22:07 pm »


               NWN is good enough as a game to make almost anything possible. Maybe we are simply not good enough to deserve it.
I don't module anymore but I don't see anything in the NWN engine which could forbide me to do anything I want, beside the cinematics maybe.
And time of course.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par jmlzemaggo, 10 septembre 2010 - 12:22 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_AndarianTD

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2010, 01:34:25 pm »


               

B_Harrison wrote...

I've never played a single player game in which the romances weren't dreadful, and/or not actually romantic in the least, including NWN's OCs. Few people are good writers, and even fewer are very romantic, so the odds are stacked against romantic dialogue in games...


Since writing a complex, involving, high-quality CRPG romance is one of my goals in developing the Sanctum of the Archmage series, I'd be very interested in feedback from players on this. If you've played a CRPG romance that you thought was well done, what was it and what did you like about it? If you've played the currently available Sanctum modules, what was your reaction (positive or negative), and why?

I agree from my own experience with OC romances in general (including NWN, NWN2, and even DA), that they tend to leave something to be desired. And I definitely agree with Ben's observation that CRPG writers typically don't have the skills needed to write a good romance. But I also tend to think that this has something to do with the state and expectations of the professional game writing market as it stands today. The modding community has done much better with writing SP CRPG romances, and I think this is partly because some of the things that you need to do to write a good one are not considered commercially viable. Modders are not constrained to write something that is perceived (rightly or wrongly) as salable to a broad consumer market, and consequently have a bit more freedom to experiment in this regard.

This has a lot to do in my opinion with the "build to the least common denominator" marketing mentality that dominates a lot of commercial gaming. This is something that's only getting worse as time goes on, as games start to cost more and more to develop. Quality story elements that appeal to a more psychologically mature player tend to give way to less sophisticated ones that have broader appeal, so as to keep the buyer's market as large as possible to recoup that enormous investment. I don't know what the answer to that is, other than to observe that it points up the need to (a) develop technologies to bring down the cost of game development, and ('B)' just take the marketing risk and build to a higher standard anyway.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par AndarianTD, 10 septembre 2010 - 02:12 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_HipMaestro

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2010, 03:08:41 pm »


               

Shia Luck wrote...
You need A Dance with Rogues if you want involving romance (and sex) in an amazing epic story. 

Hmmm... that one seems perfect for Vaalyah, Shia.

It appears neither the CEP nor v1.69 is required to play it, just SoU & HotU installed.  Or did the author just fail to provide that information?

The OC is mainly an intro to NwN which is probably the reason for the relatively thin romantic aspects.  The first time I played through, I thought Linu was easy.  And that's the way I like 'em... low maintenance! 'B)'
               
               

               
            

Legacy_B_Harrison

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2010, 03:24:48 pm »


               

AndarianTD wrote...

Since writing a complex, high-quality CRPG romance is one of my goals in developing the Sanctum of the Archmage modules, I've be very interested in feedback from players on this. If you've played a CRPG romance that you thought was well done, what was it and what did you like about it? If you've played the currently available Sanctum modules, what was your reaction (positive or negative), and why?

*Snip*

I've never played the great majority of community-made NWN modules, and I've very little relevant experience as a professional writer to make much of a call on how things work in the games industry, so I'll assume that you're absolutely right there. It'd certainly make sense.

Some factors in making the SP RPG romances I've experienced pretty ghastly, are:

  • Reliance on dialogue/speech and visuals, as opposed to description
There are romances that fail miserably in film because of poor acting. Game art -- particularly in the more recent "realistic" style, which either looks real or looks wrong, to my mind, and usually the latter -- sure as hell can't convey enough recognisable emotion to even begin to replace artful use of the English language. Hordes of the Underdark's romances (and NPC interactions in general) were a huge improvement over the OC's and SoU's in this regard, but still failed due to other factors.

  • Romances are seen as separate entities, achievements pursued primarily between significant game events
Romances occur solely in peaceful interaction/dialogue, never during, or as a result of, the circumstances of the RPG's story. Worse, they hinge upon certain conditions being met or things being said, which I think, even if only subconsciously, strikes most of us as unrealistic. (I know this is fantasy, but more than anything else, the emotional responses of characters must be quasi-realistic in even the wildest fantasy settings for us to relate and grow attached to those characters, an essential component of a successful RPG romance.)

For comparison, consider an example from film which I think works well, despite not being exactly deep or complex - Willow, and its romance between Sorsha and Madmartigan. The first time these characters meet is in a dingy, rowdy tavern, and they are enemies due to Madmartigan trying to protect someone Sorsha is hunting for. He's (poorly) disguised as a woman and when he shoves her away, she sees through his ruse and a fight breaks out; Madmartigan escapes with his companions and Sorsha is left behind, an enemy. Foreshadowing of their romance at this point is achieved with two things; brief dialogue, and the on screen chemistry/eye contact between the two actors (in an RPG, this can be described by a skilled writer; never graphics; I've seen art I could fall in love with, but never 3D game art). The film dialogue is along the lines of,

[disguised as the mother of the child he's protecting, Madmartigan shoves Sorsha away, hard. Sorsha then pulls off her helm angrily]
Madmartigan: "You're... beautiful."
Sorsha: "And you're very strong."
[a fight breaks out between Sorsha's soldiers and Madmartigan and some tavern patrons]

Contrast this introduction to a romance, with an RPG's typical methods - performing a task or recovering an item for the NPC, agreeing to fight by their side, more likely than not in dialogue that takes place not as a significant story event, but between events. Hooray; I saved the fated infant from the evil soldiers and escaped, then spent 3 minutes in awkward conversation with my future romantic partner, by which time there was no tension and no particular reason to say anything to each other.

Essentially, RPG romances are quests. Everything about them screams this; you can even see it in the way fans discuss the romances on a game's forums. Real romances -- or fantastical, but quasi-realistic romances to which we can relate -- don't work like that, as long as we're talking about romance and not sex or marriages of convenience. The events of our lives and the changes in the world around us can't conveniently be separated from the relationships we form, they're all enmeshed to form a web of circumstances and emotions.

I was going to type a lot more, but this post is already a bit ridiculous. Essentially, I think most commercial RPG romances fail completely when they're quests, achievements and game features, rather than inherent elements of the story. A good romance can't really be contained in one NPC's conversation file; it needs to be entangled in the RPG's story at a fundamental level.

The apparent trend of supporting as many romantic options as possible in RPGs (gay, straight, human, dwarf, good, evil...) exemplifies and confounds this by stripping any real identity from those very NPCs who we're supposed to care most about.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par B_Harrison, 10 septembre 2010 - 02:31 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_AndarianTD

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2010, 05:01:00 pm »


               Ben, thanks for the extremely thoughtful and useful feedback on this question! Here's a summary of the basic points that I took away from your remarks:
  • CRPG romances fail when they rely on game dialog and visuals rather than description and a more general use of language. The former are typically poor at conveying the kind of emotion that is possible through an artful use of the latter.
  • CRPG romances are inauthentic when they are written as disconnected quests, as opposed to being written as an integral part of the plot and story.
I agree entirely and am very encouraged by your observations, because these are among the "common practices" in CRPG writing that I've consciously tried to break in developing my modules. From what I've seen these are actually held as general principles of good CRPG writing, which I tend to think is part of the problem. They certainly apply to module romances, but I also think they have wider applicability as well.

I've developed a style for my mod work that involves a combination of description, prose and dialog, even in so-called "conversation" files (see for example here and here), for pretty much exactly the reason you describe. This came up briefly with some of the Bioware folks when I attended the "Dragon Age Builder's Event"  last year, when I discovered that the DA conversation system set severe limits on the length of dialog lines. This made accomodating my style quite problematic, as I discovered when I tried to do some writing for our project. Conversation files in Dragon Age were apparently designed around the idea that lines should always be short, voiced, and spoken only. And as I understand it, that's more or less industry standard.

Part of the reason why romances are generally implemented as quests is because of a common "axiom" of game design that they need to be optional -- and optional game elements are typically implemented as quests. I think that game writers shy away from trying to integrate romances into the central plot because they don't know how to do it and still keep them optional, or think that can't be done. I've never been convinced of that, and so another of the experiments that I'm trying to do with the Sanctum series is to write module romances that are fully integrated into the plot, but simultaneously allow for them to be optional as well. It's not easy, but I think I've been managing it fairly well so far. '<img'>

There's also been a raging controversy for years in CRPG design between the ideals of "linear" and "non-linear" storylines that I think is relevant to this issue. I won't get into that here, except to re-state a theme that I've written about a number of times in the past: that past a certain point, the episodic character of "non-linear" design works against the ability to develop an integrated plot and storyline.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par AndarianTD, 10 septembre 2010 - 11:24 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_Poecile

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2010, 05:06:48 pm »


               

Wensleydale wrote...

You can't really simulate romance in a computer game without it appearing at least a little forced, awkward or unintentionally hilarious. Kudos to those developers willing to try though.


 I think it is just too risky for a major cRPG producer to invest the time and resources into developing one major romance through an RPG, which is different from say a movie or book.

  Based on my forum readings over the years, it seems that cRPG players are far too discriminating when it comes to their romance preference.  If you don't fit each and every player's criteria, you'll hear about it on the forums.  Thus we see the production resources (time/writers, etc.) spread out among several romanceables.

  Simulating romance, or what I would call in a broader sense (affectionates), in a cRPG is not much different than simulating Washington DC and its surrounding suburbs in Fallout 3.  In F3, we don't have a 1:1 recreation of the neighborhoods in DC, but that doesn't seem to detract from the gameplay or the sense of immersion. 

  I view romances in cRPGs in pretty much the same way, you aren't going to see 1:1 simulation, so you have to fill in the gaps with your imagination.

  Andarian hits the point that module makers can afford to increase the focus on romances, we're not too worried about the bottom line and stock holder worries.

  I do think Baldur's Gate II set a high, high standard for romanceables/affectionates, and NWN fell far short of BGII.  I also think Bioware was influenced by how difficult it was to implement romances in BGII (specifically Jaheira) that they decided to tone it down in games like NWN....  Though Dragon Age does improve on the genre, I guess you might say they better stream-lined the romances in the step by step process that you posted.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par Poecile, 10 septembre 2010 - 04:25 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_Vaalyah

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2010, 05:43:41 pm »


               @Shia: thanks for the suggestion, but I've already got that in another forum. Discovered it is not my type of story and... huge flame war because an user believes I hated the author o_O So, thank you but... I think that I'll skip it :-P

However, you have perfectly summarized the female PC's experience. I tried to follow the romance (even if he was not my type) just to see if something would happened. No. At the end, my PC has left the guy alone. He was SO damn boring!



However, in my opinion, in NWN2 the romances are a bit better. With the Romance mod done by Domi and Berelinde at the gibberlings three forum, I would marry Bishop even tomorrow :-P However, in NWN2 we are actually speaking about companions, that is people who travel with you, are in contact with you each day, so they can develop feelings for you. In NWN2 you just met the guy/gal how many? 5 times???



@ Andarian: are you searching for romance beta-tester? Me, me, choose me!!! (jumping on her legs and shaking her hand in the air) :-D I love romance in a game... of course if it's well done! ^^



I would like to point out that in a game developing company there are not only tons of programmers... it is not so difficult to hire a writer for creating a romance that is at least decent!
               
               

               
            

Legacy_Vaalyah

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2010, 06:03:06 pm »


               Another post, just to not mix up all together



@B_Harrison: I agree with the second point you wrote. I suppose that when a NPC romances the PC, s/he should, during meele, try to "help", to protect the PC. I find "right" that the warrior in love with a sorceress would spend a little more attention for her during a battle, in order to assure that she will end up safe. So the AI should consider also this factor.



@ Andarian: I think you're missing a point in that list. A romance for a male is completely different from a romance for a female. A female needs that the action grows slowly, step by step, with acceleration. It is just an exponential function. If the PC doen't spend her time in thinking:

"Hmmmm that guy is interesting"

"Oh, I hate him, he's so full of himself!" (evident signal she likes him :-P )

"Hmmm... he's right, he has done the right things"

"What is he doing? Is he staring at me?"

"Does he like me? Maybe... or maybe not..." (typical insecure female :-D )

etc

as you can see, the thoughts are changing and shifting from a general point of view more towards an "interested" one.



Another thing I would like to point out is "preferences". I think that since everyone has his/her own ideal partner, you can't just provide a single opportunity. ie: in NWN2 there's only a man for female and a woman for male. Again, thanks to Romance pack, you can romance also other companions. And to say the truth, each companion has a percentage of fans that is about:

3 romanceable males: each has 1/3 of fans

3 romanceable females: each has 1/3 of fans

so, since you can't fulfil everyone's tastes, maybe provide the possibility to choose is better!



Finally, to provide realism... if more than one NCPs is in love with the PC... well, of course jealousy scenes would be fundamental!
               
               

               
            

Legacy_AndarianTD

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2010, 06:26:55 pm »


               

Vaalyah wrote...

@ Andarian: I think you're missing a point in that list. A romance for a male is completely different from a romance for a female. A female needs that the action grows slowly, step by step, with acceleration.


Very much agreed. That wasn't intended to be a comprehensive list, just to address the two main points of Ben's response. '<img'>

I would say, though, that this isn't actually or necessarily a gender-based difference. I think that any well written module romance needs to be able to be paced to develop in the way you describe, and certainly more slowly and with more grounding in the story than we typically see. And I say that as a male author writing several module romances for both genders. Only one of them is being written to develop very rapidly, and that's because the fact that it starts out as something of a crush is actually worked into the storyline.

Finally, to provide realism... if more than one NCPs is in love with the PC... well, of course jealousy scenes would be fundamental!


Yes, and this is another element that I'm working into the romance plots of my modules. '<img'> It sounds like you might really enjoy them, so if you haven't played them yet, the first two chapters are already available. You can see my .sig for the links. '<img'>
               
               

               


                     Modifié par AndarianTD, 10 septembre 2010 - 07:01 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_B_Harrison

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In your opinion, are the OC romances involving?
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2010, 10:11:31 pm »


               Andarian - can't add much more to that (without going off topic entirely), we're absolutely on the same page with regard to these issues. I've got to make some time for SP now and play through your modules!