What exactly are we making here?

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Bara
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Bara » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:31 pm

So then, what you guys are going on about is where is the "First Great Electronic Novelist"? I don't know, but I bet wherever they are they aren't insisting their agent open negotiations with Type Moon before talking to Random House, Houghton Mifflin or Harper Collins. The desire of most writers is to be rewarded for their work. The reality is 9 out of 10 make jack from their work. I can't much blame those that do manage to get rewarded for their work not wanting to stick their neck out too much on a new mode of presenting their work. Just as little as 10 years ago even E-Publishing was something that mainstream authors instantly equated to "Rampant Piracy".
I still don't know which comes first; the author to write or the publisher to pay. Kind of a chicken and egg quandary. Possibly if an upstart publisher could prove that there was significant money to be made off of "electronic novels" (to use THM's phrase; not the digitized books you can buy from Amazon for your Kindle.) Maybe in the future when the market is saturated with text e-readers and Amazon wants to sell more of their new hardware they will make one that is optimized to support a VN style of presentation.
Maybe instead of worrying so much about where the medium is for electronic storytelling you folks a 4LS should be enjoying the freedom you have to create and define your own abilities to tell a story without a corporate management team dictating and commanding your moves. In 20 years do you all want to be sitting around saying, "Yeah, I was there before the big companies got involved and you know what? We made the same stuff they were making over at Type Moon; just a little bit better. I wish we had REALLY done something back then."
But, that is the nature of a large scale project of any sort. Compromises HAVE to be made between the desired and the possible. At least you folks a 4LS are DOING SOMETHING; as opposed to just beating your gums and crying and moaning over the state of currently available VN's.

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Aura
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Aura » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:40 pm

No, actually I'd say that we are not doing anything interesting at all with the medium, and with this matter we are just big words, all talk. As EL points out we really think and talk a lot about VNs as a medium, but so far we don't have a single unifying theory about what a good direction for the medium would be, that'd take it away from the conventions that (some of us feel) are dragging it down, towards its death.

As you can observe from Hive's post and the dev channel chatlog, we are still just defining the medium in terms that are useful for further thoughtwork.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Multipartite » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:44 pm

*pseudo-randomly wonders about familiarity(/the lack thereof) with the visual/sound novel (in chapter format) Umineko no Naku Koro ni*

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Sajomir » Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:08 pm

I don't think we have to cut and dry VNs into any particular mold. Choices themselves don't really automatically make a VN a "game." Think about it. In a video game, does choosing your window color/border affect the game in any way? It DOES change how you experience the rest of the game, but no one would say it has an effect on the game. Likewise, if I change my Winamp skin, it does not make Winamp a game.

However, I do think of VNs as games. They've got enough in common with games to make me think of them as a game. They're both a program I have to install on my computer. They present an entertaining experience that has multiple endings based on my input. Advancing the text in either is very similar - as you push a button, the text advances by sentence or paragraph, pausing whenever the speaker changes. VNs do differ from most games in that they have written descriptions of actions instead of animations, but old text-based games or some early adventure games did the same due to technical limitations.

I don't think it has anything to do with the immersion or anything complex. It feels like I'm playing a game. Would I call it a video game? Nope. It also feels like I'm reading a book a lot of the time. Is it a book? Not really, I think VN's accomplish more than a book can alone due to the graphic and audio presentation. They're "directed" and not simply "imagined."

VN's also feel like a television series. They're extended narratives that last several hours for each arc, and are written in a fashion that helps them transfer into anime rather well. They're definitely not movies/shows, though.

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VN is a VN. People describe them as "games" because of their similarities to games. Something like 07th Expansion's "When They Cry" series is even more unlike a video game because all choice-making is removed. I definitely think they are VNs, though. In the end, VNs are "like games" in a lot of ways, and calling them games is the quickest way to get a non-member of the VN community to understand them.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Csihar » Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:15 pm

I tried describing KS to a friend who'd never heard of visual novels before as a being like a choose your own adventure manga with music. I don't think I'll ever be able to refer to the act of reading a VN as anything other than "playing," though.
Nintendo Maniac 64 wrote: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".
This may not be relevant to the discussion at all, and I've never actually read Higurashi myself, but just from the screenshots I've seen I think one could argue that it would be better off without the visual elements. Also, oddly enough, the MangaGamer page says "The format of this product is a sound novel," and then two paragraphs later, "Nevertheless, this is a game, not a novel," although that might just be due to MG's typically shaky grasp of the English language than a straight contradiction.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by EternalLurker » Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:37 pm

You took that out of context.
MangaGamer wrote:Nevertheless, this is a game, not a novel.
As the player, you will be able to unravel the mystery surrounding the events in the game as the scenarios unfold.
Actually...this tangent brings up a genuinely important point. The purpose of that statement is to imply that you are the one unraveling the mystery. The assumption seems to be that games are inherently more immersive than novels. Perhaps some consider that the distinction between the two terms being used to define VNs?

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Nintendo Maniac 64 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:03 pm

Csihar wrote:Also, oddly enough, the MangaGamer page says "The format of this product is a sound novel," and then two paragraphs later, "Nevertheless, this is a game, not a novel," although that might just be due to MG's typically shaky grasp of the English language than a straight contradiction.
I think that's more of tl;dr way to say that VNs are not novels - the alternative would have been to say that they're not games nor novels, and attempt to explain that it's in fact right in between, which may get too complicated.

Also, another way I've said it is that VNs are games in the loosest definition possible, to the point of, like I said before, actually being borderline and debatable. However, I think that this borderline-ness by definition makes it inherently impossible to specifically absolutely say if VNs are games or not.

Like most things that are borderline, it's up to whoever's judging (the user, developers, marketing, etc.).
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by neumanproductions » Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:29 pm

With the idea of games I take anything that requires a decision to be my definition of a game. In a normal novel everything is written in stone and things can never change. I don't see Shakespeare's works changing over time. A Visual Novel relies on a choice by the one taking part. Mad Libs is a game yet requires no skill but just a choice of an adjective or verb or whatever. Kinetic Novels like True Remembrance, as an example, don't involve a choice down the line but is just an interesting way to look at a story. (I love that story by the way)
So simply put, I will call Katawa Shoujo a game along with any visual novel. It always seems fresh and new every playthough; even though I've played through every possibility.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by SirMax » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:13 am

No one in the world would take my speed run of Katawa Shoujo seriously. This is what makes it not a game.

In all seriousness, I don't think it's a game because it does not take skill of any form. Even a really easy game technically takes skill, even if it's really just more like persistence and grinding.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Minister of Gloom » Mon Aug 09, 2010 2:17 am

SirMax wrote:No one in the world would take my speed run of Katawa Shoujo seriously. This is what makes it not a game.

In all seriousness, I don't think it's a game because it does not take skill of any form. Even a really easy game technically takes skill, even if it's really just more like persistence and grinding.
What about all those really, really basic board games(Snakes & Ladders) and card games(War) kids play? No skill whatsoever.
Or roulette, for the matter.
Are these not games?
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by G3n0c1de » Mon Aug 09, 2010 2:43 am

I don't think skill is what makes a game. It is a part of it, but not the only thing. According to this a game is a structured activity, usually undertaken for enjoyment. Key components of games are goals, rules, challenge, and interaction. In KS's case, only a few of these apply. It could be argued that the goal is to end the game with your chosen girl. But the biggest one in my mind is the interaction. The fact that the player is an active participant in the story, rather than just a passive observer separates VNs from novels. But does this make KS a game? In my opinion, yes. But I can see why others think it isn't. The level of interaction is minimal, much less so than other types of games. The player is passive most of the time, and only makes certain choices in the story, not all of them.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by luinthoron » Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:32 am

Ooh, I liked the comparison with Mass Effect. I know it's never going to happen, but I would really love to see what BioWare could pull off in the VN medium. They can certainly create stories that beat most VNs out there, so I always wonder what they could accomplish when you'd get rid of all other game aspects and only focus on making the best story possible.

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Smoku » Mon Aug 09, 2010 3:53 am

VNs are not novels. They're more.
VNs are not games. they're less.

And none of these two statements places VNs lower/higher then games/ novels. They're a whole new thing. Book readers would say "this kills imagination! what the hell!" and game players " what the fuck with all the letters!?".

I find little, next to none, interest in VNs in anyone I mention them to except my brother.

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by G3n0c1de » Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:02 am

luinthoron wrote:Ooh, I liked the comparison with Mass Effect. I know it's never going to happen, but I would really love to see what BioWare could pull off in the VN medium. They can certainly create stories that beat most VNs out there, so I always wonder what they could accomplish when you'd get rid of all other game aspects and only focus on making the best story possible.
BioWare's always focused on making games with good stories. Not just good stories.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by valderman » Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:29 am

Wow, that's bloody pretentious.

In my mind, a VN can be a game. Does it have a goal, any goal? Does user input affect the outcome and the road to get there? Well then, there's a game for you. If not, well, that's not much of a game. Arguing that VN:s don't have skill-based challenges is stupid; reading the characters and figuring out how to get the ending you're after is most definitely a skill.

But then again, this whole classification business is pretty retarded overall. Is there a pressing need to define what "a game" is? I think not. Just like with music genres or any other arbitrary classification, its only point is for the "elite" to be able to feel good about themselves for being so knowledgeable about <randomly classified media> and look down on <other randomly classified media> because it's not as artsy or intellectual or awesome or whatever.

VN:s aren't marginalized because people mix them up with games; they're marginalized because people really don't do much interesting with the medium (also, because your average Joe has an attention span of approximately ten seconds,) and thinking that being a VN is a goal in and of itself, spending more time trying to figure out what a VN really is (when there isn't even an answer to that question) than trying to create something interesting is one sure fire way to make sure it stays that way.

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