UCOG: Thinning Cast Bloat

I want these posts to be casual updates on where my head is at about stuff I’m working on. They won’t always be super thrilling or poignant, but they’ll be honest.

So, let’s talk about this otome game I started working on last year:

I immediately started listing tropes and characters and yelling on twitter and asking folks for their favorites and all the manic activity you might get into at the start of a very good idea. The intent was to have a demo by Christmas of 2021 but 2021 had other plans for my time and I ended up just tucking notes away as I thought of them in a story bible of sorts while I handled my life.

I even kept up a thread for a while as I’d watch movies in the genre:

Cut to now, where I have a bunch of notes in Notion databases about all these delightful characters and the story arcs and tropes I want to use and who kabedons who and whatever else I could think of. Wonderful.

Except somehow all this time I thought having twelve datable characters was a fine and acceptable thing to do as a solo dev. Twelve! It’s like the twelve days of Christmas! That’s fun and thematic! And they’re all just so important, I couldn’t possibly do without any of them, right??

Here, look at all these color-coded idiots:

MC has to stay, obviously. (They’re an existential crisis for another time, believe me.) That’s your player character and your entry into this whole disaster. But the rest?

I love all of them, but twelve is an absurd place to start, and it has taken me this long to accept that fact. Maybe there’s a far off fully realized version of this game in the future where they all exist as playable routes, but there’s no way we’re getting to a release of any kind in the next decade unless I trim that number down.

I’m thinking we need to start at four routes and expand from there if possible. I’d love to just pick my favorites but I think it’s important to balance the types of characters a little bit, or at least get some of the most well-known Christmas romance movie love interests in the mix.

Here’s where I’m at right now:

Baker – this is my favorite child, so he stays. He’s modeled after Sharl the temperamental baker (as seen all too briefly inThe Christmas Wedding Planner and Christmas With a View).

Prince – what’s a Christmas romcom fantasy without a prince from a made-up country?

Knight – just an absolute meathead of a lady knight displaced in time.

Gentleman – this is a time-travel route with a hint of marriage of convenience. Period costumes!! Also probably a route that unlocks after playing at least one of the others as it has backstory.

Honorary mentions / alternates:

CEO – the tsundere, the Cool Type, the bah-humbug Scrooge type whose cold heart you must warm up and show the true joy of Christmas.

Snowbeast – for the monster perverts out there (hey what’s up).

I can always expand and add more routes after the fact. This is just to make it easier to release something, to see if this is even viable. I think it touches on enough of the story points that filling it out with the rest of these clowns after the fact won’t feel awkward, and I can always loosely plot their routes / include them as general NPCs.

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