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Article - 'Romance Development 101' by Death Ritual

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Aug 9, 2003

Blurb

A great article concerning developing Romance in your games.

Body

LOVE, JEALOUSY AND HEARTS BROKEN
A Tutorial on Developing Romance in Games


Note: This is my first tutorial, so forgive me if it’s a bit jumbled and hard to understand. I’ll do my best to keep it simple and to the point.

Anyway, romance is an element I haven’t seen much in RPG games yet. At least not ours. I don’t consider myself a big rpg game player, but the few games I have played miss this element entirely or make a jumbled mess out of it. Therefore, I have decided to use what I personally know about romance to write my own tutorial on developing romance.

So, cutting right to the chase, there are two main types of romance, both of which I’m going to show you how to develop. The first type is the reciprocal romance; the second type is the unrequited romance.

I’m going to begin with the reciprocal romance. In this type of love story, the feelings of one character towards another are reciprocated, although this is seldom obvious. If you’ve played FFX, that is a great example of reciprocal romance – Tidus and Yuna flirt throughout nearly the entire game.

It is really hard to do a true reciprocated romance because it just won’t play well in a game. I mean, “boy meets girl, boy knows girl for ten minutes, boy falls in love with girl, boy finds out the girl loves him too” does not work very well because it is almost impossible for a romance to develop this quickly and actually happen in the game. A game that has this type of romance usually already has an established link between the two characters.

So instead, what you want to do is have one character be more secret about their feelings, not hint at them, just respond to the occasional hint of flirting. Usually this is the female member of the relationship, but it is MUCH more interesting if the boy/man is the secretive one. It lends a bit of sensitivity to your male character and also lends a very human side to your adventure.

The other character will not be exactly up front, but will hint at the growing love and feelings between the two (once again, Final Fantasy X is a great example. Notice the interaction between Tidus and Yuna, that’s exactly what I’m talking about). In most mass-produced games this is the male character, but since it’s your RPG you can do what you want. I think giving the female character this role lends an edge to her general, overall personality, especially if her character is supposed to be shy. This will keep her from seeming too staid and lifts her off the ground somewhat.

The second method of reciprocated romance is much simpler: have them act like they hate each other. This happens in real life (it’s happening to me), so some of you, if not most, will know how this works. Not only will this make for some really good romance story, but it will give your game some comedic scenes.

Now on to unrequited romance. In this type of romance, one character falls in love easily with the other, but the recipient of these feelings doesn't return them (hence unrequited). Instead, the object of our sad hero’s (or heroine’s!) love feels one of these ways:

1) Hates the character

2) Doesn’t really care or doesn’t even know the character

3) Doesn’t feel he/she can really establish a relationship

Note that for unrequited romance, the object must know that someone has fallen in love with him/her. Well, it isn’t necessary but it makes the game more interesting, as the character in love might be badly hurt.

Let’s do an example, using a girl called Kara and a boy named Emyrion (excuse the names).

Let’s say Emyrion falls in love with Kara, but she does not return his feelings. He feels badly hurt, very sad about this. (For all purposes, Emyrion is truly in love, it’s not just a crush.) Anyway, this is where the plot thickens. What if he has a chance to get back at her for brushing him off, not giving him a chance?

What if, for example, she is badly wounded and left alone with him? At this point, Emyrion’s human nature is split. He wants to counter Kara’s uncaring nature with some sort of trap of his own, but he’s still in love with her. This makes it hard for him to decide whether to help her or not.

Now here is where you could make the plot twist tighter than a telephone cord. You could have Kara reveal that she does love Emyrion; maybe she at least feels neutral towards him now, and grateful; or she still hates him. In each of these cases, you can add something else to thicken the plot further. Take it in whatever direction you want; it is your RPG after all!

Another type of unrequited love is the all-powerful crush. Though not the be-all and end-all of romance, it is really good. In this case, however, the object of the crush has no idea. This makes for interesting stories if there’s a mutual friend in the party, and even better if the mutual friend decides to play matchmaker . . . without knowing about one of their feelings.

I’m going to use my previous example, Emyrion and Kara, to describe all of this stuff.

Let’s say Kara has no idea Emyrion fell in love with her. Now, during a battle, both of them are wounded. Human nature dictates survival first, so normally Emyrion would just run away and leave Kara. But since he’s fallen in love with her, Emyrion would probably stop to heal her wound or help her out first, even at cost of his life – or something worse.

Whew! I know that’s a lot to take in, but that’s all I’ve got for romance. Just always remember one thing: it’s your RPG, so you take it in whatever direction you want.