The very nature of Ren'Ai games demands strong characters. Considering the mechanics revolve entirely around attaching yourself to a character and pursuing them, it's important to make sure the people you create are engaging. Some other games can get away with weak characterization through innovative gameplay or an interesting plot. But it's my personal belief that the best stories are the ones about interesting people, not the ones about interesting events.
That's why I pretty much start every story by drafting characters. Don't get me wrong, I have SOME idea of what the plot's going to be like - it would be pretty impossible to create characters otherwise. (Errr...well, in the story, she could be uhh...well I don't know, but she likes whales and beer and has purple hair! Whoo~!!)
But I have literally created a cast of characters and then COMPLETELY changed the story to fit them. Example:
Awhile ago, I came up with an idea for a game and created an INCREDIBLY lovable cast. I was seriously in love with every single one of the characters.
I then decided the idea for the story was, to put it bluntly, stupid. Not to mention it literally wasn't going anywhere. Like, I wrote a few pages of this and was stuck because I had no ideas for conflict that weren't trite as all get out. So I scrapped it.
But what about my cast? I didn't want them to die just because their creator had a crappy idea. So, I drafted a new idea (a much BETTER idea for the record), and molded those characters into that story. There were tweeks, re-designs, changes made along the way, and there will probably be more to come, but I managed to save the cores of my charming little people. It was kinda fun to see them transition from one world to the other.
Right now I'm in the process of drafting characters for a new project and I'm having a lot of fun investigating these people.
What are your tricks for creating characters writers/developers out there? I tend to interview them, look for character questionnares online or whatnot. My FAVORITE way of building characters is sorta roleplay. That is, someone other than me asks questions about my character and I answer as said character. It's just kinda nerdy and fun, to be honest. Not to mention super helpful for finding voice. <3