What exactly are we making here?

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What exactly are we making here?

Postby TheHivemind » Sun Aug 08, 2010 4:15 pm

In Which I talk an awful lot about definitions and really don't get anywhere in the end:

http://katawashoujo.blogspot.com/2010/0 ... -here.html
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 08, 2010 4:49 pm

Seems like a matter of just how much you want to leave up to the reader's imagination and intellect and how much you want to control it, when you think your vision is best. A soundtrack and some illustrations aren't that bad, though. And alternate story paths are just a whole different route when it comes to creative expression.

Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby Anonymous22 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:06 pm

Only an insecure moron would feel the need to justify the depth of their work by writing a shitty thesis on it.
hurr durr
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby TheHivemind » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:12 pm

Aw, I love you too, man.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby Climatic » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:14 pm

In the interests of promoting discussion I'll dump the conversation that triggered this blog post.
[19:38] <Delta_Kurshiva> VNs are not games
[19:38] <TheHivemind> And they will always view VNs as a game.
[19:38] <climatic> I'd argue that VNs are games
[19:38] <TheHivemind> No matter how hard you argue the thought process goes "is it on the computer -> is it a hypertext -> no it is not -> IT IS A GAME.'
[19:39] <TheHivemind> Shit most people cut out the bits in the middle 'cause they don't know what a hypertext is.
[19:39] <TheHivemind> On account of it being the worst word
[19:39] <TheHivemind> So undefined
[19:39] <Delta_Kurshiva> VNs are arguably hypertext
[19:40] <TheHivemind> Arguably they are, yes
[19:40] <TheHivemind> In fact there isn't even an argument.
[19:40] <TheHivemind> They are.
[19:40] <TheHivemind> But because they are marketed as 'dating sims' or whatever the terms get confused.
[19:40] <TheHivemind> And so people expect a higher simulation.
[19:41] <Aura-> who goes next on the card?
[19:41] <climatic> anyway VNs in the most traditional sense can easily be considered games
[19:41] <climatic> especially bishoujo games
[19:41] <TheHivemind> I guess I will but it will just be text.
[19:41] <climatic> since the objective is to get your waifu
[19:41] <Aura-> that is not a problem
[19:41] <TheHivemind> Yeah but you don't have to
[19:41] <climatic> and you have to make some sort of decisions to get them
[19:41] <TheHivemind> Actually try to get your waifu
[19:42] <climatic> well you don't have to play MGS to blow up metal gear
[19:42] <Aura-> I guess it's all about approach
[19:42] <Aura-> I've always likened VNs more to books
[19:42] <Aura-> never thought about them as games
[19:43] <TheHivemind> The average consumer would view it as a game. You would have to spin it as AN INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING EXPERIENCE
[19:43] <TheHivemind> You know
[19:43] <TheHivemind> Like Quantic Dream does.
[19:43] <climatic> well that is what it is
[19:43] <TheHivemind> Because both Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit were VNs.
[19:43] <climatic> I mean you can ignore the douchey buzzwords
[19:44] <climatic> but in the end it's still an interactive storytelling experience
[19:44] <climatic> I mean if you wrote a straight up novel with no interactivity whatsoever, but then put it in digital format
[19:44] <climatic> I guess that would not be a game
[19:45] <climatic> I would not call that a visual novel either though
[19:45] <Aura-> really?
[19:45] <climatic> well unless you had music and pictures
[19:45] <Aura-> why not
[19:45] <Delta_Kurshiva> interaction does not make anything a game
[19:45] <climatic> but then it is more than just the writing
[19:45] <climatic> so it's no longer a book
[19:45] <Aura-> but not a VN?
[19:45] <TheHivemind> Depends on how you're defining game, Delta. A lot of theorists say choice makes a game a game.
[19:45] <climatic> no I am saying there is more to VNs than just writing
[19:46] <TheHivemind> And if you have no choices you have no game.
[19:46] <climatic> and that is why they can't really be considered books
[19:46] <Delta_Kurshiva> I think skill defines a game
[19:46] <Delta_Kurshiva> there is no skill in VNs
[19:46] <TheHivemind> They can be considered electronic novels though.
[19:46] <climatic> well there is novel in the genre title
[19:47] <TheHivemind> 'cause just by putting 'electronic' in front of it you bring in the idea that you're allowed to use the abilities unique to a computer.
[19:47] <TheHivemind> Like music and pictures.
[19:48] <TheHivemind> And animation
[19:48] <climatic> well i think it's possible to make a VN that is much closer to a book than a game, since it is a sort of inbetween
[19:48] <climatic> but katawa shoujo is definitely a game
[19:48] <Delta_Kurshiva> I disagree
[19:49] <TheHivemind> It is why you can call something like The Unknown 'electronic literature' as well as something like 5ideways or Problem Sleuth or whatever.
[19:49] <Aura-> even if it is, it doens't feel like one
[19:49] <TheHivemind> Also KS is not a game.
[19:49] <climatic> ok so what is it then
[19:49] <Delta_Kurshiva> A VN
[19:49] <climatic> but VNs are games
[19:49] <Delta_Kurshiva> no
[19:49] <TheHivemind> No they are not, they are hypertexts.
[19:50] <Aura-> if KS is a game, a CYOA book is a game
[19:50] <climatic> I won't disagree
[19:50] <climatic> there is an element of interaction and that makes it a game in an abstract sense
[19:50] <Aura-> I mean, a CYOA book might be a game, but it sure doens't feel like one
[19:50] <Aura-> same for visual novels
[19:51] <Delta_Kurshiva> well if you say "game in an abstract sense"
[19:51] <Delta_Kurshiva> that may be true
[19:51] <climatic> who says a game can't feel like a book?
[19:51] <TheHivemind> Or works of ergodic literature if you ask some dudes.
[19:51] <Delta_Kurshiva> but it is true for so many things that it makes the thing meaningless
[19:51] <climatic> well some things are more or less abstract than others
[19:52] <TheHivemind> Except I hate the guy who coined the phrase ergodic literature so I don't use it much.
[19:52] <climatic> I remember back when we were testing KS (testing it as if it were a game)
[19:52] <climatic> and I died an awful lot
[19:52] <climatic> because the 'game' was too difficult
[19:52] <Aura-> a good point
[19:52] <Delta_Kurshiva> yeah so we made it easier because we do not consider that desirable
[19:53] <climatic> but you can still fail if you are pretty dumb and make bad choices
[19:53] <Delta_Kurshiva> sure, a VN has elements of games
[19:53] <climatic> you can't do that in a book
[19:53] <TheHivemind> You can do it in a CYOA
[19:53] <Delta_Kurshiva> But that does not make them full games
[19:53] <Delta_Kurshiva> it's like saying "hey it has animated cutscenes so it is a movie"
[19:54] <climatic> also have you noticed that people refer to actions hisao takes in first person, as if they were the ones doing it
[19:54] <TheHivemind> And there has, bizarrely, been at least one serious work of CYOA.
[19:54] <climatic> it's because he's the player character
[19:54] <climatic> rather than just the protagonist
[19:54] <TheHivemind> Also because we wrote him terribly
[19:54] <Delta_Kurshiva> yeah we do not consider that desirable
[19:55] <climatic> I think it's an idea you could give some thorough exploration
[19:55] <Delta_Kurshiva> what idea
[19:55] <Delta_Kurshiva> blank slate MC?
[19:55] <climatic> the main character as the 'player character' rather than the protagonist
[19:55] <climatic> not necessarily a blank slate
[19:55] <Delta_Kurshiva> well we already did
[19:55] <climatic> although that would make things simpler
[19:56] <Delta_Kurshiva> our whole branching theory depends on the player's choices influencing what type of person hisao is
[19:56] <Delta_Kurshiva> in subtle ways
[19:56] <Aura-> alternatively, make the player a character in the story
[19:56] <Aura-> as in break the 4th wall
[19:56] <Delta_Kurshiva> ever17
[19:56] <climatic> well the thing about this idea is that you actually need players, and that means releasing games
[19:57] <climatic> so i would not worry about it for teh time being
[19:57] <climatic> *the
[19:57] <Delta_Kurshiva> this is what makes ever17 so genius
[19:57] <Aura-> yes
[19:57] <climatic> but yeah I think the fact that people refer to hisao as if they were him is one of the key aspects that makes VNs more like games then books
[19:57] <Delta_Kurshiva> the twist in ever17 is indeed one of the most profound I've ever seen
[19:58] <Delta_Kurshiva> the game is not even close to always being at that level though
[19:58] <climatic> like rather than from a technical perspective but from a mental perspective
[19:58] <climatic> the experience is different
[19:58] <Delta_Kurshiva> first person narrative has that effect
[19:58] <Delta_Kurshiva> don't you feel the same about narcissu
[19:58] <climatic> yeah but lots of books are written in first person
[19:59] <Delta_Kurshiva> even though it doesn't have choices
[19:59] <TheHivemind> Books don't normally have choices though.
[19:59] <climatic> yeah i got that sense from narcissu as well
[19:59] <TheHivemind> But CYOA books have the same effect.
[19:59] <climatic> it ties into the "IT'S LIKE I'M REALLY _______________"
[19:59] <Delta_Kurshiva> I consider that an often overlooked facet of narcissu
[19:59] <TheHivemind> It's that element of interaction which works for immersion.
[19:59] <Delta_Kurshiva> you identify with the protagonist as a player character
[19:59] <Delta_Kurshiva> but you STILL have no choice
[19:59] <climatic> in narcissu's case it would be "IT'S LIKE I'M REALLY TAKING A ROADTRIP WITH A DYING GIRL"
[19:59] <TheHivemind> Just that minimal amount of interaction does the trick.
[20:00] <Aura-> man you make it sound like I'm weird for reading VNs without immersing my own persona into them
[20:00] <Aura-> climatic
[20:00] <Delta_Kurshiva> because the whole story is about not having choices
[20:00] <climatic> yeah aura I think that is the goal
[20:00] <climatic> it is just most VNs suck dicks
[20:00] <climatic> or the protagonists are so sociopathic and uncanny
[20:00] <Delta_Kurshiva> I never identify with VN protagonists
[20:00] <climatic> that you cannot relate
[20:00] <Delta_Kurshiva> not even with Blick Winkel
[20:00] <Delta_Kurshiva> I understood I was supposed to, and that was enough for me
[20:01] <Delta_Kurshiva> but I still did not feel like I was him
[20:01] <Aura-> yeah this is my experience too
[20:01] <Aura-> for every VN I've ever read
[20:01] <climatic> well i don't think you always have to go that far
[20:01] <climatic> but i think the way the player pespective is handled is a key aspect
[20:02] <Delta_Kurshiva> other way round
[20:02] <Delta_Kurshiva> do you feel like you "are" the protagonist in traditional games
[20:02] <Delta_Kurshiva> Half-Life is a prime example
[20:02] <climatic> well rather than feeling like gordon freeman is climatic
[20:02] <climatic> It's more like climatic is gordon freeman
[20:03] <climatic> yes
[20:03] <TheHivemind> Yeah.
[20:03] <Delta_Kurshiva> gordon freeman is as blank as they come though
[20:03] <Delta_Kurshiva> you never even see him in the game
[20:04] <Delta_Kurshiva> and a FPS is by definition the most immersive game imaginable
[20:04] <climatic> ehhhh
[20:04] <Delta_Kurshiva> funny that with all the "games must have stry" movement, there is also a strong trend to thrid-person shooters
[20:04] <Aura-> yeah I think I identify more with Shepard or Freeman than I do with Shiki or Hiso
[20:04] <Aura-> hisao
[20:05] <climatic> actually i have always found the constraits of the screen do not mimic human sight enough for fist person to feel like it should
[20:05] <Delta_Kurshiva> so you would rather have more abstraction?
[20:05] <climatic> I think third person games are actually more accurate because you have some degree of prepherial vision
[20:05] <climatic> (and then some)
[20:05] <Aura-> do you identify with your WoW character
[20:05] <Delta_Kurshiva> yeah but in TPSs you always have the feeling that you're remote-controlling someone
[20:06] <climatic> I don't play WoW
[20:06] <Aura-> it was [insert third person game]
[20:06] <Aura-> do you?
[20:06] <Delta_Kurshiva> in RPGs, the whole point is that you're roleplaying as someone
[20:06] <climatic> yeah I guess I do?
[20:06] <climatic> I mean that is why this motion control business is so solliy
[20:06] <Delta_Kurshiva> you might be roleplaying yourself, but there's still a layer of abstraction
[20:06] <climatic> *silly
[20:07] <TheHivemind> Yeah RPGs are all about abstraction.
[20:07] <climatic> rather than being more immersive it is just distracting
[20:07] <TheHivemind> They are also the most effective.
[20:07] <climatic> a regular controller is so simple that it minimizes the mental jump
[20:07] <Delta_Kurshiva> I rarely ever feel immersed in a game anyway
[20:07] <TheHivemind> Stuff like Mass Effect or Fallout or Planescape that let you decide how you will act
[20:07] <Delta_Kurshiva> so i miht not be the best person to talk about this
[20:07] <TheHivemind> And then actually has people react accordingly.
[20:07] <TheHivemind> But immersion is a tricky fucking thing to get a handle on.
[20:07] <Delta_Kurshiva> yeah but the question is
[20:08] <Delta_Kurshiva> is that more abstract or more immersive
[20:08] <Delta_Kurshiva> and are abstraction and immersion even antonyms
[20:08] <TheHivemind> They aren't really. Something abstract can be immersive.
[20:09] <Delta_Kurshiva> so what are their respective antonyms then
[20:09] <TheHivemind> Abstraction encourages a greater mental involvement, really.
[20:09] <TheHivemind> You invest more brain power into suspending your disbelief or buying into the story.
[20:09] <Delta_Kurshiva> well let's define these terms then
[20:09] <TheHivemind> Abstract/Concrete Immersive/Self-Aware
[20:10] <TheHivemind> Or not self-aware, really.
[20:10] <Delta_Kurshiva> so what is "concrete" in a game context
[20:10] <Delta_Kurshiva> FPS as opposed to TPS?
[20:10] <Delta_Kurshiva> wagglan as opposed to button pressing?
[20:10] <TheHivemind> Hmm... I'm not sure. Honestly I think that both are abstractions.
[20:11] <climatic> brb
[20:11] <Aura-> super mario vs crysis?
[20:11] <Delta_Kurshiva> well wagglan is, but it's still less abstract
[20:11] <Delta_Kurshiva> I think there is an uncanny valley of controls
[20:11] <Delta_Kurshiva> pressing a button is canny because it's totally abstract
[20:11] <TheHivemind> Anything that asks you to believe you are 'a character' is abstract. Something like PacMan or Tetris is concrete because it's just a presentation of mechanics. No story, just movement and scoring.
[20:11] <Delta_Kurshiva> wagglan is uncanny because it's supposed to be realistic but is not really
[20:12] <Delta_Kurshiva> >Anything that asks you to believe you are 'a character'
[20:12] <Delta_Kurshiva> does Half-Life really want you to believe that?
[20:12] <Delta_Kurshiva> does metal gear solid?
[20:13] <TheHivemind> Sure they do.
[20:13] <TheHivemind> On one level you are being asked to say 'I am controlling this character's actions to drive the story.'
[20:14] <climatic> when you die in pacman you would think 'oh man I died'
[20:14] <TheHivemind> On another you are being told 'these are the rules of a game, overcome these obstacles in order to gain the rewards of victory.'
[20:14] <climatic> rather than 'oh man pacman died'
[20:14] <Delta_Kurshiva> isn't that just a shorthand
[20:14] <climatic> I mean that's a stretch but I think there are still elements of it
[20:14] <Delta_Kurshiva> you say "wtf I died" even in tetris
[20:14] <Delta_Kurshiva> as a shorthand for "I just lost the game"
[20:15] <TheHivemind> I hate the dichotomization of the debate, but games interact on a narrative and ludic level.
[20:15] <TheHivemind> Simultaneously.
[20:15] <Delta_Kurshiva> sure
[20:15] <TheHivemind> We even create a narrative when we play Tetris.
[20:15] <TheHivemind> It is just a personal one.
[20:15] <climatic> yeah that's what I'm trying to get at
[20:15] <climatic> you don't really get that with books but you'd get it when you get b6ed in kS
[20:15] <climatic> *KS even
[20:16] <TheHivemind> (Agh, actually they are all 'personal,' hang on I gotta think this through)
[20:16] <Delta_Kurshiva> yeah the thing is
[20:16] <Delta_Kurshiva> you apparently consider that kind of immersion in a VN a plus
[20:16] <Delta_Kurshiva> when we consider it a fault
[20:16] <climatic> huh
[20:16] <climatic> I guess
[20:16] <climatic> well i don't know if it's an absolute plus
[20:17] <climatic> but I think it is something that should be considered at least
[20:17] <TheHivemind> The whole electronic storytelling thing is the trickiest goddamn theoretical thing to talk about.
[20:18] <climatic> well it's new and there aren't any big books on it
[20:18] <TheHivemind> There's a surprising amount, although most of them are general 'new media' books.
[20:18] <Delta_Kurshiva> it seems we are able to pull it off reasonably well just on intuition
[20:18] <Delta_Kurshiva> and I think that is the most important part
[20:19] <Delta_Kurshiva> One of our main drives in writing is to try to make Hisao a stronger character
[20:19] <Delta_Kurshiva> and I think even if we managed that, it would still not break the player-character bond
[20:19] <climatic> yeah
[20:20] <TheHivemind> Damn I could almost write a blog post about this.
[20:20] <Delta_Kurshiva> it's not like we are saying "WE MUST BREAK THIS BOND BECAUSE WE HATE IT"
[20:20] <TheHivemind> This shit is my jams

words words words
<duanemoody> you're ruining the illusion of craftsmanship we see in every commercial for some product
<duanemoody> like cheese
<duanemoody> it has to be a bearded intense man in a leather smock hyperfocusing on sculpting some pointless detail
<duanemoody> badly lit for maximum contrast
<duanemoody> LIKE THIS, visual novels are made
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby EternalLurker » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:15 pm

Katawa Shoujo:

In which people rant about the stagnation of the VN medium and/or its sad state as a hybrid medium

Delta wrote:I think skill defines a game...there is no skill in VNs
1) lol @ so many games, but more relevantly, 2) tell that to all the people who have to use walkthroughs to get the KS girls o_O
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby coldacid » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:40 pm

Rather pedestrian, but instead of going through all that complex mumbo-jumbo stuff for definition, I more or less sum up the medium as an electronic form of CYOA books with ever-present and occasionally changing graphics, and sometimes with music, sound effects and/or voices." Kinetic novels similarly, just strike CYOA from above and you're set.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby Mirage_GSM » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:42 pm

Well, if you don't like your readers to identify with Hisao, you probably shouldn't have used a first person narrative...
I don't think it detracts from his character, though. There's plenty of times in the story where Hisao acts without the reader being able to influence his actions with a choice, and some of those actions are so facepalm-worthy they really disrupt any identification one may have built up with him.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby Aura » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:52 pm

Identifying with the protagonist is fine, even desireable (at least in climatic's mind). What we don't want is that he would feel just like an empty vehicle, an avatar for the player. That is a completely different thing.

Also re: skill. While someone might claim to have the skill of being able to guess the writer's mind, VNs, at least most of them, are not written to pose a challenge. Thus, skill is a non-factor in VNs.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby ContinualNaba » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:54 pm

A VN is an electronic book with a Rashomon complex. And hot dickings. I, personally, never managed to think 'Oh hey I'm a cripple', but more 'Oh hey, here's a cripple. Lets peer in on his social life and buxom companions.'

Either way, whether it's a game or something else really depends on the stigma of each and who you're trying to market to.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby TheHivemind » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:15 pm

I guess most of what the post was trying (and failing) to communicate was a few simple things:

1. VNs are not games. They are VNs, and as such have their own abilities.

2. It is possible to do more with VNs than moe and porn. Whether or not this makes the format more legitimate in the eyes of the general public is kind of immaterial, although if one were to wish for legitimization this is the path you need to take.

3. KS is not going to go that route because we're pretty conventional! This is not necessarily a bad thing (it is moe and porn but it is hopefully well made moe and porn).

4. The Apollo 13 CYOA novel was fucking hilarious.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby ContinualNaba » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:35 pm

2. It is possible to do more with VNs than moe and porn. Whether or not this makes the format more legitimate in the eyes of the general public is kind of immaterial, although if one were to wish for legitimization this is the path you need to take.

One has to ask, what would benefit more with still images than actual animation? Action is out, unless you're an extremely competent writer. Nekkidness is kept still because you gotta... well... appreciate what you're seeing. I think. Sci fi might need it, with the fantastic ships, cities and so forth, but then you'll start thinking you're going through an art collection rather than there to read.

Perhaps an entirely new genre?

3. KS is not going to go that route because we're pretty conventional! This is not necessarily a bad thing (it is moe and porn but it is hopefully well made moe and porn).

It's also partially lampooning the concepts altogether, as well as pointing out the issues in the lives of the disabled. But there's good writing all around, and medium does not care for writing, so long as it's done well.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby Merlyn_LeRoy » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:48 pm

This guy identifies with Hisao pretty well.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby Nintendo Maniac 64 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:05 pm

About the VNs being games or not thing...

The way I see it, there's a border between when something is called a game and something is called a novel. IMO, visual novels, especially ones with choices and branching plots, ARE the border.

Also, one thing I've been thinking about a lot with VNs are e-books. The way I see it, VNs are essentially media-rich e-books. With e-books becoming more popular as more portable-reading-friendly devices are made, I've always seen it that this would be a great way to try to push VNs as, like a said, a media-rich e-book. Apparently MangaGamer is already partially doing this with Higurashi supposedly being under the "Books" category rather than "Games".

Obviously true dedicated e-book reading devices wouldn't be able to pull off visual novels currently, but you still need to at least have something that breaks the mold in the first place and show that yes, you CAN enhance a story with things that are more than just black text on white.
Katawa Shoujo's resident straight male kuutsundere.
(because just "tsundere" makes people think of "Shana clones" *shivers*)

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Postby TJF588 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:25 pm

Even if VNs aren't games, this won't be stopping me from listing it in my Backloggery. :3

the chances of it being original were crippled from the get-go

You could say that Katawa Shoujo is <sunglasses> "katawa" itself.
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