28/03/2012

Unlucky In Love

I'm terrible at Bioware romances. I'll never forget my first playthrough of Dragon Age and how I magically managed to do something that pissed Alistair off pretty much every time I thought that I was finally getting somewhere with him. The whole affair eventually cumulated in him throwing a massive hissy fit at the end when I refused to make him king (after he had spent the whole game moaning about how he didn't want to be a king anyway, mind you) and running off to become a drunkard, leaving my poor warden to save the world on her own. I haven't really got any better at it since then.

From what I can gather, this seems to be a pretty unique problem, as it's quite rare that I hear about anyone not getting the romances to work the way they want to. Sometimes people will poke fun at times when they got sucked into one without meaning to, but that's pretty much it. Most of the people I talk to just seem to "min-max" their affection by researching what exactly their companion likes and then doing everything to please them, including restarting conversations if they've made a "mistake" and accidentally displeased their love interest. In SWTOR, simply hitting [Flirt] every time it comes up seems to be a pretty safe way of getting companion affection anyway.

I just can't play like that though. My characters have integrity. They won't just bend to the whims of some demanding companion. Also, I don't cope very well with how ham-fisted the romantic interactions in the game work out to be due to the way the conversation system works. In real life, flirting is often very subtle and dependent on context, not to mention that it's quite possible to be flirtatious without necessarily ending up in bed together. In an RPG however, this doesn't really work if you also want to make sure that players always know what they are getting into. Combine this with TOR's system of paraphrasing each dialogue option in three to five words, and pretty much all your flirt options end up looking something like: "[Flirt] You're quite the hunk." Yeah, um, no. I can't really see anyone saying that.

On my trooper main, the very first companion I got actually happened to be the romance option for female characters, but I immediately thought "no way" as he was pretty much just a cranky git. I remember having a companion conversation early on where I was given the option of offering to let him clean my equipment any time (uhhh) and while just reading that got a chuckle out of me it was definitely not going to be my reply of choice. However, as Aric's personal story unfolded and he gained some depth, I have to admit that he actually grew on me. I decided that I wanted to romance him after all, but apparently Bioware doesn't believe in people growing on you. Since I passed over the chance to flirt early on, it was gone, and I was friend-zoned forever. I felt rather dejected by that, especially as my boyfriend kept going on about how his trooper and Elara were discussing where to hold their wedding (or something).

Enter my Jedi consular. (This bit is going to be a bit spoilerific about Jedi consular companions, at least in so far as how you can get the romances all wrong.) I decided that she was going to be a good Jedi and would thus not pursue any romance. Of course this meant that as soon as soon as I encountered my second companion, he actively started hitting on me. At first I thought this was kind of amusing, as I stoically deflected his advances over and over again, but he didn't really seem to take no for an answer. When he eventually asked me outright to join him in his bunk I was like "NO!" and he complained about me supposedly ending our "relationship". The who with the what now? Talk about deluded. Though the worst thing for me personally was that excusing myself with the Jedi code wasn't even an option. Instead I had to tell him that we couldn't be together because his holographic girlfriend would be heartbroken. Yeah, right.

Then I got my third companion, and he was awesome! A twi'lek just like my consular, and a bit of a sociopath. Note that I do not endorse romantic entanglements with people like that in real life, but this is a game and I could immediately picture him and my consular bouncing off each other in the most interesting ways (no, not like that!)... she would break the Jedi code for someone like him! Except, it turned out that he's not romanceable. Moving on.

Then I got Lieutenant Iresso, of whom I'd heard before and who I knew was a romantic interest for female consulars. Once again I made sure to stay away from any [Flirt] options because I really didn't want to go there. Until one day he decided to tell me about how he was going to "get to know the ship a bit better" or something, and my three response options were: 1. [Flirt] 2. [Flirt] 3. "I'm not comfortable with this." (WTF, what is there possibly to be uncomfortable about when he mentions wanting to have a closer look at the ship? I mean, I get that it was probably supposed to be some sort of innuendo but it just didn't work for me at all.) I gnashed my teeth and went with one of the flirt options since the paraphrasing for the only non-flirt option made no bloody sense. We were in a cantina after all, how bad could it possibly get? In actuality, my character ended up saying something really tame and non-committal, so I hoped that this was going to be the end of it.

Nope, soon afterwards he initiated another conversation involving awkward metaphors. I just wanted to ignore any innuendo and take everything he said literally, but again all my conversation options were pretty much 1. [Flirt] 2. [Flirt] 3. Be mean! I just clicked on whatever I thought sounded evasive, but nothing that actually came out of my character's mouth sounded even remotely like what I wanted to say, and before I knew it Lieutenant Iresso was sucking face with my twi'lek lady. I was flailing around and yelling at my screen and my boyfriend just looked over my shoulder and laughed, tutting at me for breaking the Jedi code. "But I didn't want to!" I wailed. Seriously, why is "Jedi don't do that" never even an option?

At least Iresso was easy to break up with, and he didn't even give me a -1 of shame for it. Basically the conversation went like this:
"Won't the Jedi council object to this kind of thing?" (Finally someone gets it, I've been dying to say this all along!)
"Yes."
"Should we stop then?"
"Yes."
"Okay."
Phew.

At this stage the only character for whom I still have a little bit of hope in terms of future romantic entanglements is my Imperial Agent. She got to shag some guy as early as the starting zone, the dialogue gelled for me and it was entertaining. Then she flirted with another agent on Balmorra, though Kaliyo constantly made fun of me for it, and he had to go undercover so it never went anywhere.

When I first met the female romance option, I got the choice of "[Flirt] You're quite handsome" or something to that effect, while my actual thoughts were something along the lines of: "Good god, what kind of freak is this guy?!" However, he too has grown on me and it seems that I haven't missed the boat yet this time, probably because he was a bit bugged and refused to talk to me for a while. By the time five or six conversations all unlocked at once he had already grown on me, I got to flirt a bit and behold, the actual lines spoken by my character were actually pretty nice and not at all cringe-worthy. So far he hasn't been responsive to my advances, but that actually makes it more interesting to me and I'm sure I'll get there in the end. It would be nice if at least one of my characters could have some sort of love life.

11 comments :

  1. "probably because he was a bit bugged"

    I see what you did there. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I was worried that one might be a bit too subtle. :P

      Delete
    2. I dont get it :( Probably because I don't know what bugged means.

      Delete
    3. It means "not working properly", but it also works as a word play in this context since the companion in question is bonded with some bug-like aliens.

      Delete
  2. I was duoing with my sisters Agent when we met Vector. After the first conversation, I was like, "Your future boyfriend is a FREAK!" (and it was just like when we were teenagers and sniping at each other's boyfriends all the time ;) )

    I was playing a BH and she gets back at me by calling my LI Bieber (look at a screenshot of Torian and you'll see where that comes from)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to admit, I loled when the results of the Google image search for Torian came up.

      So is it always a done deal for you (and your sister) in terms of romance? As in, you will romance an available companion as soon as the opportunity arises, just because you can?

      Delete
  3. I'm playing BH and I just hate Torian. Maybe it's the French dubbing but he seems sad each time he spoke, and I find highly uninteresting the way he's always loyal and respectful towards authority (I'm a Bounty Hunter, not a faithful trooper!!). I'm so sad it's my only romance option, I'd have better romanced Gault (<3) or even Mako. Plus I find [flirt] dialogue options silly, don't know if it's specific to Torian or if it's the same for all classes.

    I just bought a customization for him, maybe it's not that bad if he doesn't look like Bieber, but if it's not better I think I'll have to wait for the homosexual romance option to get into a romance with this character.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I'd take not liking my class's romance option over being unable to execute any romance properly any day. ;) And to be fair, Bioware was never going to be able to please everyone with each romanceable companion. From what I've seen so far though I think they've done a pretty decent job at offering a selection for different tastes across the various classes.

      Like I said in my post, I struggle with choosing the [Flirt] options as well because the paraphrasing often just makes them sound awful, even if the actual dialogue ends up not being nearly as bad.

      Delete
  4. It is interesting because Bioware seems to (tacitly) approve of romance with Iresso but not Doc (female knight). I was CONSTANTLY given the option of "I'm breaking the rules" or "you're a man-whore" (which, while mean, was completely accurate). And, here's the kicker, I'd get LIGHT SIDE points for parroting the jedi code and saying "no thanks", dark side points for sucking face with him, and neutral for flirts that didn't go anywhere. In fact, that's how I knew that something would lead to BSOCK, it had a little red triangle next to it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Now that I'm back home, I can give you a longer answer. I have no problems with Bioware romances. Another blog (I think Azuriel) asked how you can play an opposite gender character and be fine with the romance, and my answer to that is similar.

    I don't try and get inside my character's head. The character exists apart from me, and the story exists separately. What I'm doing is shaping the story. And so I pick the response that will lead to the story I desire. The details of the response itself are less important than the ends that result from it.

    I gather that for you, the specific individual response matters a great deal. If the option that leads to the romance sounds awkward, then you don't choose it, despite the fact you are cutting off the story that would result.

    In some ways, my story would be written in third person perspective, and perhaps yours would be in first person perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mass Effect 3 is also a bit "odd" on the romance front. No spoilers, but midway through the game after being rather offish with almost everyone, three people suddenly asked to turn up to my cabin and turned more salacious than appropriate. The one person I'd tried to be more flirty with still hasn't shown any interest. Still, I guess misconstrued comments and so on are quite true to real life. It didn't annoy me at all, just made me scratch my head.

    ReplyDelete