What exactly are we making here?

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Aura
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Aura » Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:29 am

The underlying thing is that Hivemind actually is a real life scholar of a topic that makes this issue his field of expertise, so naturally it would be of interest to him and because we all are pretty much into this VN thing too, to us as well. I too criticized his blog post for sounding like an intro to a scientific paper about visual novels (I guess that's what "pretentious" means here? It's kind of a throwaway term these days, mostly meaning either "you're thinking too hard" or "I feel insecure about not understanding you"). Anyway, just because the medium is traditionally used as a vehicle for anime porn, it doesn't mean it can't be thought about.

The second paragraph makes me think that acid house jazz DJs stole your lunch money and literature professors gave you wedgies all day long in middle school. The point of categorization of a medium is not for the knowledgeable to assert their superiority over other people (of course it can be used for that as well!), but to chart the genealogy and history of the field, to find connections and relations, to understand what things are made of. VNs have relations to literature, to movies, to comics and to video games. Does any of these categories cover it entirely? Is one perhaps more influent than others? This kind of a thing is actually pretty relevant.

The only sentence I really agree with was in the third paragraph. VN as a medium is the red-headed stepchild of novels, comics and video games because it's not used much for interesting things. However, before we go about creating the nu-gen, artsy visual novel total experience that is so much outside of the box that the box has actually crawled inside our VN, we started by trying to think what the fuck we actually are theoretically trying to reinvent here and then Hivemind wrote out his own definition. As you can see, the issue definitely is not clear-cut.

I guarantee, your "down-to-earth" approach of "common sense solves everything" to avoid elitism and pretense does not work here, however I'd be interested in knowing what would be "interesting".


e: as for the "is a VN a game" discussion, I'm not happy with delta's definition either. To me, rules define a game. While this would qualify VNs as a class of games, they don't feel like it at all. I don't get a feeling of success for reaching a good end, or a pang of guilt for bypassing the rules by using a walkthrough. Not really sure what to think about that. "Game-like visual media"? "Gameoids"? Terrible, terrible.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Nicol Armarfi » Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:34 am

e: as for the "is a VN a game" discussion, I'm not happy with delta's definition either. To me, rules define a game.
Personally I think trying to define a game by saying it requires "skill" or it has "rules" is like saying a pizza is something that has a pizza crust. Sure, you might not find it in too many other types of food, but in order for anyone to really consider it a pizza you need to have all the ingredients there.

With that in mind, I'd say calling a VN a game is like calling pizza sauce a pizza, or something. You could say VNs offer interaction with choices, and they tell a story like several games do, but many VNs don't even offer that, and then you also have to consider that they lack challenges or rules. Sure, some VNs include other games within the VN (for example Symphonic Rain, which includes a rhythm game), but I would not use that as an excuse to call VNs games themselves. VNs are simply story telling mediums, like books or movies, but I think interaction is confusing people a bit.

But anyway as it said in the article, I reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally would like to see more VNs that don't focus on awful highschool anime romance, seriously. There is just so much more you could do with it as a medium. Someone mentioned Umineko earlier; personally I love the Higurashi games, so I imagine Umineko is pretty baller as well, but even higurashi is still pretty loljapan. What I'd really like to see is the result of getting a Western author, totally removed from Japanese influence, the task of creating a visual novel.

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Csihar » Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:06 am

Maybe this is a bit too meta, but I think a key to defining what a VN is how it holds up depending on the standards by which you measure it. In other words, if you were to consider KS (or most VNs for that matter) as a game, it would be an extremely boring one. It's like an RPG with no fights and no exploration. If you look at it as you would a play or novel, though, it holds up quite a bit better, which makes me think its essential nature is a bit closer to those. (And if a VN doesn't offer much in the way of gameplay or story, you can usually look at it from a third angle: as porn. How KS will fare in that area is yet to be seen, of course, but I think it will still be quite a bit closer to something like a novel considering the high words-to-bonings ratio.)
Nicol Armarfi wrote:What I'd really like to see is the result of getting a Western author, totally removed from Japanese influence, the task of creating a visual novel.
Somebody get Neil Gaiman on the phone.
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by luinthoron » Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:19 am

Csihar wrote:It's like an RPG with no fights and no exploration.
Maybe it's just me, but I'd love to play a RPG like that. After all, I tend to play them for the story anyway.

G3n0c1de wrote:
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.
Which is why the "never going to happen" part. But it's still interesting to speculate.

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by TheHivemind » Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:28 am

valderman wrote: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.
The whole point of defining a medium is to then set about finding ways to play around with that medium. In its own way it becomes like something of a game itself--how far can you push a Visual Novel before it becomes something else?--and can be of great use in both being able to define works that use the format well and those that do not use it well. If you say 'I am going to make a VN that is totally awesome' without any idea of what makes a VN unique as a format you will wind up making an RPG or something else because you won't know what defines a VN (which has a clear answer, because I gave a definition in the original post). There's no way to push the boundaries of a format if you don't know what the boundaries are--a game like Digital, for example, might push the boundaries but it ignores them in other ways and I'm not sure it is actually a VN at all; more of an adventure game (as a result, it has some severe gameplay issues that aren't worth going into here).

Also by your definition of game you've basically made reading a book a game--the goal is to finish the story, the reader's input (turning pages) can effect the outcome--a reader has the freedom to skim over some sections, or skip pages, or read the book backwards! It is just that doing so produces an unfavorable result. You have to follow the rules for reading that are defined by centuries of traditional book-reading. Some books do give options on how they're read (See Only Revolutions for a good example, or hell, look at the I Ching), because books have a lot of different abilities that we rarely see used! They are just like games! Or maybe they are not, because there is more to games than choosing how to read a story. See Nicol's exquisite pizza analogy for details.

Also implying that game developers don't sit around thinking about what defines a game is just ridiculous, the silliest thing. That is what game design is all about!

As a final thing, since I have already referenced Nicol once, I might as well add that western authors have already created visual novels, and they are even available online! They're not great, but they do exist.

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by valderman » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:28 am

The point of categorization of a medium is not for the knowledgeable to assert their superiority over other people (of course it can be used for that as well!), but to chart the genealogy and history of the field, to find connections and relations, to understand what things are made of.
Agreed; I messed up there. I can only blame sleep deprivation as I've been up working on my thesis for the last 30 hours or so.
I guarantee, your "down-to-earth" approach of "common sense solves everything" to avoid elitism and pretense does not work here, however I'd be interested in knowing what would be "interesting".
I'm quite the expert att being an elitist ivory tower jackass (not implying that anyone else is, mind you;) I could write endless pages about what constitutes a functional programming language and whether C++ has real OOP or not from a theoretical standpoint. However, I do realize that such things have very little to do with anything practical; C++ isn't going to be used less because some computer scientist declares it "not enough OOP" nor is Smalltalk going to be more widely used just because someone declares it a "true" OOP language. It wasn't all that long ago when Facebook integration was completely unheard of in a game, yet now everyone uses it. Does that make Facebook integrated games less of a "game" and more of a "social recreational activity"? I don't know and I don't care, and neither do the people who play said games. History and entertainment media family trees are all well and good, but the blog post really frames the question as "people need to realize VNs aren't games, otherwise they can't be popular" which is the angle I'm coming from.
While this would qualify VNs as a class of games, they don't feel like it at all.
Then what would you brand products such as True Love as? To me, that's clearly a simulation game, even though it definitely has the feel of a VN (the gameplay, even the simulation parts, is remarkably similar.) No, I believe VNs need more cross pollination from other media, not less, if it's to become successful. People don't care about genre purity, they care about being entertained.

The whole point of defining a medium is to then set about finding ways to play around with that medium. In its own way it becomes like something of a game itself--how far can you push a Visual Novel before it becomes something else?
That's an interesting theoretical excercise, but it's got just about nothing to do with creating an interesting VN. If such thinking would produce a revolutionary VN, that'd be because your reasoning brought you to a definition of VN that's different (in a good way) from the definition of VN put forth by those who have gone before and created those not-so-revolutionary VNs, not because you somehow stumbled on "the true essence" of a VN.
If you say 'I am going to make a VN that is totally awesome' without any idea of what makes a VN unique as a format you will wind up making an RPG or something else because you won't know what defines a VN
This assumes that achieving VN status is a goal in and of itself.
(which has a clear answer, because I gave a definition in the original post)
OK, poor wording. There isn't a well-defined answer to be had; of course you can put forth a definition of what makes a VN, just like I can put forth a definition of what constitutes power metal, that doesn't mean our definitions are in any way "correct" or that there even is a correct definition. Who's to say your definition of VN trumps the "a VN is porn with plot and some user interaction" definition other than the proof by authority conferred by your status as a scholar?
Also by your definition of game you've basically made reading a book a game--the goal is to finish the story, the reader's input (turning pages) can effect the outcome--a reader has the freedom to skim over some sections, or skip pages, or read the book backwards!
And why couldn't book reading be a game? Define the goal as "find out the relevant information" and the winner as the one who reaches the goal first, and you have a game as good as any.
Also implying that game developers don't sit around thinking about what defines a game is just ridiculous, the silliest thing. That is what game design is all about!
Game design is about thinking about what defines your game, not a game. I assure you there is not a single (successful) game designer that has ever thought that "this idea would be awesome but it differs too much from what constitutes a game so we'll drop it," just like a musician wouldn't say "oh shit, this chorus and orchestra thing isn't really metal so I guess we won't be using that on our next album."

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by TheHivemind » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:49 pm

valderman wrote:
I guarantee, your "down-to-earth" approach of "common sense solves everything" to avoid elitism and pretense does not work here, however I'd be interested in knowing what would be "interesting".
I'm quite the expert att being an elitist ivory tower jackass (not implying that anyone else is, mind you;) I could write endless pages about what constitutes a functional programming language and whether C++ has real OOP or not from a theoretical standpoint. However, I do realize that such things have very little to do with anything practical; C++ isn't going to be used less because some computer scientist declares it "not enough OOP" nor is Smalltalk going to be more widely used just because someone declares it a "true" OOP language. It wasn't all that long ago when Facebook integration was completely unheard of in a game, yet now everyone uses it. Does that make Facebook integrated games less of a "game" and more of a "social recreational activity"? I don't know and I don't care, and neither do the people who play said games. History and entertainment media family trees are all well and good, but the blog post really frames the question as "people need to realize VNs aren't games, otherwise they can't be popular" which is the angle I'm coming from.
No, the blog post says nothing about treating VNs as games being responsible for their lack of popularity. VNs are not popular because they are little more than moe and porn, and adding some more gamelike elements isn't going to fix it either. Working within the format to create something interesting will do that--adding game elements just makes it something else entirely! Also Facebook's stuff being popular or not doesn't change their nature! It also doesn't change the developers who are fighting against this move toward stuff like Farmville because they think they focus less on real gameplay and more on getting you to spend money! That's possibly something else, which hasn't quite been defined--and until it is I guess developers will fight about what makes/doesn't make them games.
Then what would you brand products such as True Love as? To me, that's clearly a simulation game, even though it definitely has the feel of a VN (the gameplay, even the simulation parts, is remarkably similar.) No, I believe VNs need more cross pollination from other media, not less, if it's to become successful. People don't care about genre purity, they care about being entertained.
Format, not genre. Genre is saying 'this is a romance/sci fi/historical,' or 'this is an RPG/FPS/TPS/Adventure/Sim.' Genre blending is fine! There have been a lot of success stories there. Format not what you're saying, it's how you're saying it. And if we cross pollinate VNs they become something that is no longer a VN--which isn't necessarily a bad thing (some formats just aren't that good and should be abandoned)--which would kill the format. For people who want to make the VN format more popular, that doesn't make any sense! The consumer might not care about it, but the developers do, and they're the ones making the things.
That's an interesting theoretical excercise, but it's got just about nothing to do with creating an interesting VN. If such thinking would produce a revolutionary VN, that'd be because your reasoning brought you to a definition of VN that's different (in a good way) from the definition of VN put forth by those who have gone before and created those not-so-revolutionary VNs, not because you somehow stumbled on "the true essence" of a VN.
I don't recall implying that you'd stumble upon the true essence of a VN at all! It takes reasoning your way to a definition of VN in order to know what you can and can't do--for example, maybe there are things you can do with a certain programming language that you can't do with another! That would make you choose carefully the sort of language you'd use (which would be the 'format' part of the equation) before you sit down and start coding. Similarly, if you have an idea for a story you want to tell, you'd sit down and see whether or not the format of a VN would tell the story in a way that was best for you. Maybe there are levels of interaction you want to include that mean it is better to go with a different format, maybe not. You may even create a hybrid format for your extra-special idea, who knows? But it's sitting and thinking about this sort of thing that lets you know whether or not a particular format is going to be worth trying out or if it is going to be an exercise in frustration.
This assumes that achieving VN status is a goal in and of itself.
See above, I think that's kind of covered. You don't set out to achieve the status of VN, you decide whether or not a VN is going to be the right format for what you're trying to do. Also I guess poets who set out to write sonnets are setting a goal to achieve that status as well as deliver their whatever-the-hell it is poets deliver, which doesn't seem that different from saying something like 'I want to write a VN in which x happens.' It's good creative exercise, because as I've said already working with limitations gives you something to struggle against and forces you to think of new ways to work within those limits!
OK, poor wording. There isn't a well-defined answer to be had; of course you can put forth a definition of what makes a VN, just like I can put forth a definition of what constitutes power metal, that doesn't mean our definitions are in any way "correct" or that there even is a correct definition. Who's to say your definition of VN trumps the "a VN is porn with plot and some user interaction" definition other than the proof by authority conferred by your status as a scholar?
My immediate reaction is to say 'yes, because that means I have devoted more time to studying this and therefore have a greater knowledge base to work with,' but that would smack of pretension so let's just pretend, just for the sake of argument, that academia is there solely so I can sit in my ivory tower and laugh at the plebes.

In which case, my definition of VN trumps your example definition because there are already works using the same format as the 'porn with plot' examples which are not porn with plot at all! Writing off the VN format as porn with plot is too narrow and disregards any contrary examples! At the same time a definition shouldn't be too broad because then the words lose any meaning (like calling things pretentious, which has become the Godwin's law of academic discourse). Plus, defining a format by its most prevalent genre doesn't really work--saying 'porn with plot and limited user interaction' could just as well work for a collection of porn films on one DVD. You choose the story you want to watch and then sit back and watch as to your shock Young Billy turns out to be a woman in disguise who has fallen in love with her rough and tumble riding partner. Not a particularly complicated plot, but it's still plot. It is a weak definition that doesn't stand up to contrary examples, which is what makes a good definition. The definition I presented, on the other hand, allows for both works with no user interaction and works with user interaction, works with music or no music, and any kind of visual styling that you could dream up of--making it inclusive of the more esoteric examples of VNs--while at the same time making it clear that VNs are not games or simulations, which rules out something like True Love (which I haven't played, but if you say it behaves as a simulation I'll take your word for it--but that means it is not a VN).

Also I swear to god if someone says 'the exception that proves the rule' to explain why a non-porn VN doesn't negate the 'porn with plot' definition I will ban you because that is not what that phrase means at all.
And why couldn't book reading be a game? Define the goal as "find out the relevant information" and the winner as the one who reaches the goal first, and you have a game as good as any.
That makes finding the information a game, but not the actual act of reading! Reading remains taking in knowledge by the conversion of signs and symbols to meanings using sight or touch. Plus that's not the point--you've created a game that involves reading a book by imposing rules on it, but a book itself is not a game--as soon as you set goals and rules you made it something that wasn't just reading a book.
Game design is about thinking about what defines your game, not a game. I assure you there is not a single (successful) game designer that has ever thought that "this idea would be awesome but it differs too much from what constitutes a game so we'll drop it," just like a musician wouldn't say "oh shit, this chorus and orchestra thing isn't really metal so I guess we won't be using that on our next album."
I guess if you were a game designer with a narrow view of what a game was then yeah, you'd probably have a lot of trouble! However as you pointed out people made games on Facebook so I guess it all works out in the end because the definition is broad enough to allow for that sort of thing. The video game format is so insanely broad in its definition that it can encompass an awful lot, although most people would agree that there are rules and skills involved beyond reading comprehension.

As for successful game designers who sit around talking about this sort of thing, I can assure you that if Bioware sets out to make an RPG they will shoot down ideas that do not fit into an RPG format. 'But Hive,' I hear you ask, 'How do they know what defines an RPG format?' Why by sitting around and talking about it, of course. Last I checked Bioware was pretty successful too. In a similar vein, I'm sure that Bungie knew full well what defines an FPS before they made Halo, or that Valve had the same kind of discussion before making Half Life 2.

Also your music example doesn't really work because isn't there already a symphonic metal genre? Metal seems to encompass an awful lot of musical stylings, just like the definition of video games encompasses a lot of different game mechanics. Man, I don't keep up with the kids and their rock music much when it comes to that.

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Aura » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:50 pm

valderman wrote: I assure you there is not a single (successful) game designer that has ever thought that "this idea would be awesome but it differs too much from what constitutes a game so we'll drop it," just like a musician wouldn't say "oh shit, this chorus and orchestra thing isn't really metal so I guess we won't be using that on our next album."
You don't think any of us (4LS devs) is a game designer then, seeing as we all have thought about this at length? Well, I guess one could say we are not successful. Anyway the analogue seems odd to me otherwise too, as trying to find some sort of a fence that defines "VN" and then staying inside it for some reason is definitely not our approach (e: as Hivemind already said, in about as many words)
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by vermithrx » Mon Aug 09, 2010 1:58 pm

A game is an exercise of choice under scarcity with an aim or goal in mind, in which all choices are not of equal utility.

In valderman's example he created artificial scarcity by imposing a rule (the time limit), but a novel imposes no scarcity on its own. It is simply a source of information. So too with visual novels. Every choice moves you along the story towards an end (the goal), but you don't know how desirable a given end will be until after the fact (if you know your destination you are already there, or have been) so all choices are of equal utility.

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by valderman » Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:13 pm

No, the blog post says nothing about treating VNs as games being responsible for their lack of popularity. VNs are not popular because they are little more than moe and porn, and adding some more gamelike elements isn't going to fix it either. Working within the format to create something interesting will do that--adding game elements just makes it something else entirely!
No, adding game elements makes it something slightly different from your view of a VN. "Working within the format" is nothing more than putting arbitrary limitations on your work. Granted, if you were to just throw random features at a VN it would end up pure shit, so restraint is obviously necessary, but flat out stating that "game elements have no place in a VN" is pointless for all practical purposes.
Format, not genre.
Agreed; again, bad choice of words on my part.
And if we cross pollinate VNs they become something that is no longer a VN--which isn't necessarily a bad thing (some formats just aren't that good and should be abandoned)--which would kill the format.
By that reasoning, power metal killed heavy metal, symphonic metal killed power metal, and forum theatre killed both live action roleplaying and conventional theatre. Cross pollination only "kills" the medium if you're stubbornly sticking to a "pure," outdated definition while the rest of the world moves on. (In the general case; I'm not saying that "pure" VN:s are obsolete or anything.)
But it's sitting and thinking about this sort of thing that lets you know whether or not a particular format is going to be worth trying out or if it is going to be an exercise in frustration.
I agree completely (or I wouldn't even be partaking in this discussion.) However, where you seem to see the VN as a monolith that either is, or is not, I see it as a collection of ideas. I don't think the question is one of "does this fit into my monolith," but rather "does this go well together with the ideas I already decided I want to use?" Putting "the format" on a pedestal is rarely a good way to create something groundbreaking, even if it tends to work reasonably well for creating mediocre rehashes of what's come before.
In which case, my definition of VN trumps your example definition because there are already works using the same format as the 'porn with plot' examples which are not porn with plot at all!
Ah, but then you have already made the assumption that the format is indeed broader than "porn with plot." If I define the VN format as porn with plot, then by definition, non-porn with plot works are not VNs, and can thus not be used to prove that VNs are broader than porn with plot. The same thing applies to your assertion that VNs with game elements are not VNs.
That makes finding the information a game, but not the actual act of reading! Reading remains taking in knowledge by the conversion of signs and symbols to meanings using sight or touch. Plus that's not the point--you've created a game that involves reading a book by imposing rules on it, but a book itself is not a game--as soon as you set goals and rules you made it something that wasn't just reading a book.
Now you're just splitting hairs. If we're going to go down that road, I could just argue that a computer game is not a game at all, but merely a collection of instructions for processing a set of inputs (keystrokes, mouse movement, etc.) into a set of outputs (sounds and images.) Now we can create a game on top of this which consists of running said instructions, but the "game" itself is not a game; it's just software.
although most people would agree that there are rules and skills involved beyond reading comprehension.
Amen to that! :mrgreen:
As for successful game designers who sit around talking about this sort of thing, I can assure you that if Bioware sets out to make an RPG they will shoot down ideas that do not fit into an RPG format.
Does farming fit into the RPG format? Does real-time, first-person combat and minigames based on chance and dexterity? If not, Neither Harvest Moon nor Oblivion are RPGs and as I recall, both were marketed as RPGs and pretty successful at that. Warcraft 3 is a strategy game, yet encompasses a lot of RPG elements. There is no such thing as a fixed format; the format evolves by smart people trying to add new ideas to it, or deprecate old ones. Naturally, you're going to have to do a lot of thinking about which ideas work well together and which don't, but no good game was ever created by blindly following The Format, also known as "those old clichés."
Also your music example doesn't really work because isn't there already a symphonic metal genre? Metal seems to encompass an awful lot of musical stylings, just like the definition of video games encompasses a lot of different game mechanics.
Sure there is, but at one time there wasn't. Then someone added a bunch of ideas that were distinctly not metal to the old, conventional metal, and there it was. In just the same way, it's entirely possible to create a sub-format of VNs, perhaps VN-with-game-element-X, by adding ideas that are distinctly not VN, and just like symphonic metal is still metal, that subformat would still be a VN.

I'm curious; what is your field of research, if I may ask?
You don't think any of us (4LS devs) is a game designer then, seeing as we all have thought about this at length?
No, because as (some of) you have repeatedly stated, a VN is not a game. :wink:
No seriously, I was more referring to designers of groundbreaking, innovative games. KS is a very good VN, I think, and it's propably the first widely known game about sex with disabled people, but revolutionary is too strong a word for it.
Anyway the analogue seems odd to me otherwise too, as trying to find some sort of a fence that defines "VN" and then staying inside it for some reason is definitely not our approach (e: as Hivemind already said, in about as many words)
Not saying you are; I'm just saying that defining a VN in a static, unchanging way that doesn't recognize that all things are in constant flux (which IMO is just what you're doing when stating that "a VN isn't a game, period") isn't doing the format any favors.
In valderman's example he created artificial scarcity by imposing a rule (the time limit), but a novel imposes no scarcity on its own. It is simply a source of information. So too with visual novels. Every choice moves you along the story towards an end (the goal), but you don't know how desirable a given end will be until after the fact (if you know your destination you are already there, or have been) so all choices are of equal utility.
By that reasoning, any game where there is no objectively best ending (or even any game with a focus on story) is not a game.

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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Nintendo Maniac 64 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:23 pm

It would seem that some people still insist to call it a game or not...

Why can't we just call it something between novels and games and move on? Is there some sort of big deal that I'm missing?
Last edited by Nintendo Maniac 64 on Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mirage_GSM
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:54 pm

Personally I don't see VNs as games. They are electronic books with several alternative endings. I do recognize that they contain some elements that would make many consider them games, so I wouldn't feel that strongly about it, if someone called them that.
Ah, but then you have already made the assumption that the format is indeed broader than "porn with plot." If I define the VN format as porn with plot, then by definition, non-porn with plot works are not VNs, and can thus not be used to prove that VNs are broader than porn with plot.
"Porn with plot" is not a format at all. It decribes the content of the game/VN/book/movie/etc. and thus is the genre.
And I think it has been sufficiently established that though "porn with plot" is probably the most prevalent genre among VNs, there are more examples to the contrary than can be justified by the "the exception that proves the rule" mantra.

Regarding "True Love"... I haven't read/played it yet, but from what I was able to find out about it, it looks like a VN to me. Yes, depending on the choices you make you increase "stats", and those stats are needed to get the desired girl, but basically those stats are glorified flags you set for your chosen girl's path. If you spens much time doing sports your strenghth will increase and you'll score with the girl on the swim team. A bit like Persona without all the RPG elements.
So basically not much to set it above/apart from VNs.
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valderman
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by valderman » Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:04 pm

Why can't we just call it something between novels and games and move on?
Because it's an interesting discussion.
"Porn with plot" is not a format at all. It decribes the content of the game/VN/book/movie/etc. and thus is the genre.
Fair enough, let's reword it: if someone were to define a VN as "an electronic story told using text, images and sound, requiring non-trivial user interaction," it would still be as valid as Hivemind's definition for the reasons previously outlined. Now, I wouldn't agree with that definition as I indeed think that non-trivial user interaction is not necessary for a VN, but if someone were to espouse that opinion it would be no less valid than Hivemind's.

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Aura
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by Aura » Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:06 pm

valderman wrote:I'm just saying that defining a VN in a static, unchanging way that doesn't recognize that all things are in constant flux (which IMO is just what you're doing when stating that "a VN isn't a game, period") isn't doing the format any favors.
Perhaps you should've actually paid attention to what I'm trying to posit. To be fair though, I disagree with Hivemind on a few key points and he's way more vocal than me.
[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
VNs fill pretty easily most definitions of a "game" but that doesn't mean you have to approach them as games. Anyway even the most revolutionary of ideas are standing on the shoulders of someone else, be it games or music or whatever. Game devs and musicians alike surely will drop ideas that don't fit their framework(Dragon Age 2: Danmaku Age), and if necessary they broaden their horizons so that their new idea fits in there. The discussion we've had between the devs was not about finding any sort of monolithic definition of VN, at least to me it wasn't, nor about finding out what's "wrong" so we can do everything the other way around. Simply put, what we want to do is to find out where we are so we could figure out where to go. Better yet, defining a VN allows making another "traditional" VN that much neater and more efficiently. Climatic and delta's argument about whether VN is a game or not definitely gave me a couple ideas about how to plan and structure a VN story.
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valderman
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Re: What exactly are we making here?

Post by valderman » Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:18 pm

Aura wrote:
valderman wrote:I'm just saying that defining a VN in a static, unchanging way that doesn't recognize that all things are in constant flux (which IMO is just what you're doing when stating that "a VN isn't a game, period") isn't doing the format any favors.
Perhaps you should've actually paid attention to what I'm trying to posit. To be fair though, I disagree with Hivemind on a few key points and he's way more vocal than me.
[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
VNs fill pretty easily most definitions of a "game" but that doesn't mean you have to approach them as games. Anyway even the most revolutionary of ideas are standing on the shoulders of someone else, be it games or music or whatever. Game devs and musicians alike surely will drop ideas that don't fit their framework(Dragon Age 2: Danmaku Age), and if necessary they broaden their horizons so that their new idea fits in there. The discussion we've had between the devs was not about finding any sort of monolithic definition of VN, at least to me it wasn't, nor about finding out what's "wrong" so we can do everything the other way around. Simply put, what we want to do is to find out where we are so we could figure out where to go. Better yet, defining a VN allows making another "traditional" VN that much neater and more efficiently. Climatic and delta's argument about whether VN is a game or not definitely gave me a couple ideas about how to plan and structure a VN story.
Well, that's basically what I'm saying (or trying to say, at any rate,) except with less words. The broadening of the horizon is the key point; the way I read Hivemind's posts, said broadening impossible without killing the medium or turning it into something else entirely, which is what I don't agree with.

Way to put a damper on an interesting hair-splitting discussion. :(

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