Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What's Attractive Anyway?


I'm coming out.

I, Sammy, am a heterosexual female.

Now if you want to go and clicky that little "x" box right up there on your browser or de-follow me or something, I'd completely understand. Just know that your bigotry is not appreciated by the world at large and I don't need your acceptance to love myself. I know that maybe reading the blog of a straight girl who writes games for straight guys might make you uncomfortable. But I hope you can look beyond who I am as a person and see me for my ideas.

All joking aside, it sometimes weirds me out how much I enjoy playing and writing bishojo games despite being a straight lady. I guess the romance novel aspect of it just really hits home for me.

Don't kid yourself, I enjoy playing bishojo games, but hot damn do I LOVE playing Otome games. For ALL the wrong reasons. Read: 1.) the guys are hot, 2.) the guys are hot, 3.) Hot damn that's some pretty art and 4.) the guys are hot.

Now don't get me wrong, I can tell a bad Otome game just as easily as I can call out a bad bishojo game. And I hate suffering through either. But my libido just gets to me when playing super cute games about adorable heroines getting swept up by their prince charmings (or Prince Meganes, as I happen to often lean towards. =3=)

Still, Project "O" is an otome project, while Project "G" is bishojo. (Project G is my first title and is further along at this point). Project "O" isn't necessarily any easier to write than Project G was. Why is that? Shouldn't my perspective as a straight girl make it easy for me to develop some super likable guys that I just know will make girls' heads spin?

Yes and no. There are certain qualities about various characters that certain women find attractive and others consider a total turn-off. For instance, in Yo-Jin-Bo, a bunch of fans went crazy over little Yo, the youngest character in the game. I found Yo to be adorable, but not necessarily hot stuff. His ending, for me was "meh" at best.

So how do I approach making a game where I want each character to appeal to the player? Surely, I can start by making them all appeal to me in some way. But what about diversity? I'm certainly not the final word on what makes any person attractive, female or male. How can I make sure that I'm not just making a cast that appeals to me and people like me?

Well, I can of course pull from the tropes. They're tropes for a reason - they work. And to a certain extent, I've done that. But to make my characters more human, I've fleshed them out more, made them more down-to-earth, a bit more likable. I've also made sure to include characters who may not be super-OMG-hotstuff at first, but perhaps will grow on the player. Each guy is going to be super cute, don't get me wrong. But I want there to be a serious discrepancy in personality. I don't want carbon copies of my favorite Otome character, or anyone's favorite otome character for that matter.

I don't want to rely exclusively on the tropes and stereotypes because I don't want my player to write off my characters as "oh, the tsundere" or "oh, the tortured type" or "oh, the prince". That's not doing them justice. And it might be fun to play a game with your favorite guy in it once again (oh, Megane-sama), but that won't leave an impression - that won't make someone care.


  1. Hmm it's strange. As a girl, the first vn I wrote was a bishoujo game - now I am writing an otome title myself, and suddenly it seems a lot harder to do >_<

    I don't really know why. Maybe it's because I'm just not the romantic type ^^;

  2. So long as you don't go overboard with diversity (a la TokiMemo), and the few personalities you do pick are mostly different from each other, I don't think you can go wrong. I've played games where none of the characters appealed to me, but that's because they were all the same, just different hair color. A player is bound to pick a "most interesting one" if there's more than one to choose from. Also: they must be sexy. (<-- can't stress enough)

    Definitely make them all appealing to you. If you can't "see it", then there's something wrong. If you could only see that guy as a friend, then most likely, we will, too. I think dating VNs are really like "what if's", rather than just life simulators. "What if I dated this guy instead? Well, our hawt secks would be like this."

    But whatever characters you do create, people are always going to find a way to classify them. If they're mean to the MC, they're tsundere, if they're nice, they're the prince, if they wear glasses, etc. It comes with the genre. The best thing you can do and the only thing you can do (in my opinion) is for YOU not to think of them in that context. It will likely rub off on the player.