Rebuttal against the decision to remove this entry

Posted in

#1 by IceHunt55
2022-11-21 at 20:02
< report >Hello, my name is Don. I've read visual novels since I was a kid. I think I knew about visual novels before I even found out about anime through a Wikipedia entry of Little Busters.

Since then, I have read over 100 Japanese visual novels, ADVs and probably around 50 western visual novels as well. I like all kinds of games, from untranslated caveman-era games during the birth of the medium, to retro CsWare and Elf games to modern archetypical visual novels of the 2000s which inspired numerous hentai and anime adaptations to modern masterpieces, fap and sound novels and indie, denpa games with no character sprites, backgrounds or anything else that's taken for granted a visual novel should have.

Overall, I've been in this hobby for more than 10 years and I want to elaborate as to why the Serbian visual novel called [100 godina Histološkog instituta] should have its entry on the visual novel database site.

The argument that the admin beliar used to justify the removal of this visual novel is that he called it a "small adventure-educational game" which sadly "is not really a VN".

I will refrain from addressing the adjective small used to describe any title because it's a vague descriptor, but I'm guessing beliar was referring to the length of this game as very short; a visual novel which can be read in an hour at best.

We all know that the length of the visual novel doesn't constitute if it is considered a visual novel or not. A visual novel from a western game developer sakevisual called Ripples can be finished in less than 15 minutes yet it is still considered a visual novel. I'm guessing beliar also didn't mean the amount of people working on this title when he called it small because a solo developer SoftColors is credited for creating Aquadine. The game [100 godina Histološkog instituta] is made by two people, amateur game developers.

I also hope that he didn't mean it to be unambitious when he called it small because this game has everything a modern, commercial visual novel has and even something more on top. It features 3D models in a 3D environment with custom assets. It features a different Cyrillic script and a hand-made custom user interface unlike the ones which beginner visual novel makers use that comes with a free download of Ren'py engine. The characters in this visual novel are all based on real people, renowned Serbian scientists in the medical field of Histology.

The next descriptor beliar used that I want to address is the word "adventure" as in "an adventure game". It is known that the tag "ADV" is used to describe a visual novel with adventure game elements such as an inventory system, a point and click system, an object interaction system, movement options and a 3D environment. ADV elements have been an intrinsic part of retro visual novel design and in renowned titles such as YU-NO or Eve:Burst Error. A game by Giga & Team Baldrhead called Duel Savior has a large chunk of its gameplay dedicated to a fighting game mechanic whereas games like Kichikuou Rance have insane amounts of these adventure game elements.

All of the games I've listed have their entries on this prestigious site. The fact they're adventure games on top of them being visual novels isn't a strong enough reason to take them down from the site.

What about a game like BlazBlue:Calamity Trigger which is a fighting game yet somehow still keeps its entry on this site as a visual novel? It has story progression shown through a classic visual novel style letterbox screen but that only makes for about 20% of the entire game, at best. It doesn't have any other elements which constitute a visual novel. Yet it still has its entry on the Visual Novel Database. And what about the Danganronpa series? A first-person shooter-like adventure game which becomes progressively more shooter-y in later entries. It still has its entry in the Visual Novel Database as well.

Do I even have to mention the word educational? The type of content should never justify if it's considered a visual novel or not.

So now we come to the elephant in the room and that is the definition of visual novels. What is a visual novel? There's many definitions and a lot of fans describe them differently. Some would just say "dating sims" even though the dating sim subgenre of visual novels has long since died out. Others would call them games where there's no gameplay except clicking to progress text.

For me, a visual novel is a piece of software where the majority of time a user spends on reading. This amount should, to me, be more than 50% or else that is not a visual novel. Any software, any video game in which you, as a player, spend more time reading (or listening to) the text is a visual novel to me.

If you think about it, it makes absolute sense. By that definition Call of Duty will never be a visual novel. BlazBlueas well. But Danganronpa will be because even after the shooting sections and class trials the most iconic moments of the game you, as a player, spend reading the text and listening to music and voice actors saying their lines.

So now I want to ask the esteemed administrator beliar if he still thinks that the visual novel [100 godina Histološkog instituta] isn't a "real visual novel". A beautiful game with hand-drawn character sprites, relaxing music and 3D backgrounds in which most of your time as a player you spend reading through different dialogues, descriptions of real-life experiments, the use and descriptions of tools used in the Belgrade's Histological institute.

A game where you have a choice of what you want to do first in your task of creating a microphotograph so you can do whichever attracts you the most first instead of the game being like a kinetic novel.

A visual novel which aims to educate but also raise interest in people that died a long time ago, but their work still matters to this day.

A title created by 2 people who invested time and effort for a one-time only gallery exhibition visual novel game that's mostly interesting to young medical students and professors than to normal people.

Does that game, which is a visual novel by all grounds except the most traditional ones, not deserve to be remembered for all time by being on this site as an entry? Does it not meet the high standards that other visual novels which have entries on VNDB like John Cena's High School Adventure and ATASHINORIRI: KAWAII CHISTMAS! meet?

And to sum it up: My country has only recently entered the visual novel race. In the last 2 years only two titles were created by passionate people and artists. One is a Fate/Stay Night-inspired BL game with beautiful CG and character art which takes cues from Serbia's rich history and culture called "Ljubav u doba opstanka".

And the other one is this title, which was sadly removed for no reason other than, to be quite honest, prejudice and overtly high, snobbish standards as to what constitutes a visual novel. I take immense pride to finally put these titles on this website after years of being in this hobby and on this site.

I am not the creator of these games yet I'm still proud they exist, and I want them to be remembered.

[100 godina Histološkog instituta] is a game that will be shown to people in Belgrade until the end of November and then it will be forgotten forever. Unless it stays here and people are allowed to see that at one point in the year 2022 a couple of people made an educational adv visual novel for medical students and it looks absolutely mesmerizing, especially when read in the gallery during the exhibition.

The creators of this game expressed joy when I told them that their title is on VNDB. They didn't even know this site existed and when I showed them that Steins;Gate is there, one of their favorite visual novels, they were ecstatic that their visual novel will be on the same site where Steins;Gate is. Is this how VNDB behaves when fans of the medium express joy being able to find their own game next to their favorite game?

I have nothing more to say other than to urge admins to reconsider and return this entry back to the visual novel database site if not for the sake of the definition and nitpicking, then for the sake of posterity and proof of someone's work. And if you can't do even that, then I ask you to broaden your definition and stop living life by them. All definitions become outdated because the creative spirit, the one which is always present in this medium always pushes for this broadening and innovation.

Thank you.Last modified on 2022-11-21 at 20:09
#2 by cubky
2022-11-21 at 20:18
< report >I cannot speak for "esteemed administrator beliar", but from what you wrote this game does not sound like a VN at all.
#3 by onorub
2022-11-21 at 20:19
< report >Not to sound like a jerk but if your biggest gripe is the lack of available information about the game in the years to come, can't you just make a wikipedia article about it?
#4 by beliar
2022-11-21 at 20:57
< report >
So now we come to the elephant in the room and that is the definition of visual novels.
There is no elephant in the room, because we have a very clear definition what we consider to be a visual novel, and thus legible for an inclusion: d2#1. Moreover the guidelines are still pretty relaxed, thus there are sometimes debates regarding certain borderline games, if they should be included.

The thing is, 100 godina Histološkog instituta is not a borderline game in any shape or form, as it breaks every single of the milestones to be included here.

1. The game has no narration. There are only a few dialogues with with three existing characters in the game, each having only 3-4 unique lines.
2. Majority of the game is comprised of veeeery slowly moving around in a 3d environment, and completing a single puzzle, which takes up majority of the game's timerun, as it is shorter than 10 minutes, and about 8 of those minutes are made up of walking and the aforementioned puzzle. Hence the game doesn't even have a proper gameplay to reading ratio to come even close to a visual novel.
3. Our guidelines are already pretty relaxed, but strict enough to weed-out adventure games, which happened here.
4. No narration, free movement, and puzzles, with barely any reading (and reading descriptions of the images on the walls does not count) are all hallmarks of an adventure game - not a visual novel.
5. We are not gonna revise our guidelines just to include this game, as it would go directly against the purpose of the db - that is to include visual novels, and not adventure games or RPGs. Games like "The Longest Journey", "Planescape Torment" or the Trails series already have a high reading to gameplay ratio, but the clauses regarding the need for narration and no frequent interruptions are keeping them away.
6. So, if you care about this game, create a Wiki entry, as it was suggested, but it is definitely not a visual novel.
#5 by IceHunt55
2022-11-21 at 21:04
< report >@cubky, my words aren't gospel. You should try it out and see for yourself. However, it's in Serbian language and in a different script. I sent a link to the exhibition build of the game to one of the admins upon their request (might be beliar, i'm not sure)
@onorub my biggest gripe is unfair standards when it comes to defining what a visual novel is or isn't. I gave enough examples in my rebuttal. Do you think Blazblue is a visual novel? I've been in this community long enough and this question as to what is and isn't a vn has always been the ever-present question in this hobby whose only purpose was to gatekeep. I remember when people didn't consider western visual novels true vns because they "weren't pretty" like the Key games they used to play and compare them with.
#6 by nazim10
2022-11-21 at 21:39
< report >Still not a VN though.
#7 by IceHunt55
2022-11-21 at 21:42
< report >@beliar, it is because I've read your guidelines that I'm writing this rebuttal and I have given you extensive proof with mention of at least 5 different titles which have their own entries on VNDB even though they don't completely FIT your guidelines. Wouldn't you agree then that those guidelines serve no purpose if said titles I mentioned all have to be justified in order to have their entry on this site? Also, you mean to tell me that those guidelines' purpose was to differentiate games like Planescape:Torment from games like Steins;Gate on the off chance that someone might mistake apples for plums?

No one here is arguing that games like "The Longest Journey", "Planescape Torment" and "Trails Of" games ARE visual novels because they have a lot of text to sift through. They aren't visual novels because you don't read the story most of the time while playing them. You're pivoting away from the elephant in the room. 2 of 3 games are you mentioned are RPGs. And the one that is an adventure game cannot be compared to 100 Godina Histološkog Instituta because it isn't an adventure game. Games like The Secrets of Monkey Island and Gabriel Knight. What you're doing is necessarily trying to classify this game as something other than a visual novel without actually comparing it to the thing you're trying to classify it as.

Regarding the guidelines themselves:
Choices are the only allowed (but optional) form of interactivity.
In the game you are given a choice as to what activity you are going to do first. It's not a traditional choice in a sense where you choose which girl's cooking you want to eat like in a traditional eroge but it is still a choice by definition.

The story is told employing one of the known Visual Novel presentation methods such as ADV.
The story is told with the ADV method. All the text we read is within a letterbox window.

So it fulfills both of these primary characteristics. It doesn't have 20 different choices and it doesn't have a lot of text but that SHOULD NEVER be a factor that decided if something is or isn't a visual novel. A visual novel should and can have 10 sentences of text and can be read in 10 seconds and it will still be a visual novel by the definition. What matters is the purpose, , the characters, the themes and the story which differentiates a visual novel from 10 random sentences on a sunflower background. And [100 godina Histološkog instituta] has all of that!

The point in the guidelines about dialogues purports that dating sims aren't visual novels. It unnecessarily creates a distinction between 2 incredibly similar types of software. Dating sims are visual novels. Visual novels are dating sims. That point in itself is redundant. If you look at the history of the visual novels you will see that one came out of another and vice versa. And really... dialogues? So you're saying that according to your guidelines when a character's sprite is present on screen in a visual novel and it is talking to the player character it is "not a dialogue" because of RPG and adventure game "definitions". That is outright nitpicking. The dialogues you have in an action RPG like Mass Effect are built on the same basis as dialogues in visual novels where instead of character like Miranda you are talking with Makise Kurisu.

"at least 50% of the game should be made of pure, VN-style reading."
So if a game lasts 10 minutes,like you said, out of which 8 minutes you spent on walking and not reading it doesn't make it a visual novel? Even though the game's content's purpose is actually reading about different methods, techniques and tools and learning (it's an educational visual novel after all!!!) like you learn when you visit any exhibit. And also that's an overblown estimate if you want to nitpick at that as well.

The only thing that the 100 godina Histološkog instituta doesn't FIT in the guidelines is this part: "The storytelling segments should continue uninterrupted for a significant amount of time." but that is because the game isn't that long. Its purpose isn't to tell a narratively fleshed out story with deep and meticulous characters. Its purpose is to show and explain what is what and to educate on a very peculiar topic.

And still, in the guidelines themselves you admit to regular exceptions and concessions, yet this tiny title is the one thing which simply cannot fit any of the bills. And when it comes to historical value, ss the reason why Blazblue entries are on here because they are historic visual novels?Last modified on 2022-11-21 at 21:47
#8 by beliar
2022-11-21 at 22:46
< report >
So it fulfills both of these primary characteristics.
These are not the primary characteristics. The primary characteristics are the presence of narration, high reading to gameplay ration, and long uninterrupted reading segments.

Dating sims are visual novels.
Dating sims are not visual novels. Visual novels can have elements of a dating sim, but pure dating sims (with the exception of some very old games for historical reasons) are not allowed on vndb.

So if a game lasts 10 minutes,like you said, out of which 8 minutes you spent on walking and not reading it doesn't make it a visual novel?
Absolutely.

Its purpose is to show and explain what is what and to educate on a very peculiar topic.
So, in other words, it's an educational adventure game.

ss the reason why Blazblue entries are on here because they are historic visual novels
Never personally played the game, but we have been assured multiple times by those that have played it, that the game has a mode where the fighting comprises less than 20% of the whole experience, and the players have hours of uninterrupted reading.
#9 by Ileca
2022-11-21 at 23:12
< report >This game is such a losing case. It's not even ambiguous. Me and Beliar finished it and even as an inclusionist, I would have a hard time justifying its presence in the db (I was the first to be disappointed because the game looked very good on the screenshots).

They aren't visual novels because you don't read the story most of the time while playing them.
Dude, you are answering your own question concerning this game. XD

I am not the creator of these games yet I'm still proud they exist, and I want them to be remembered.
The absence of a game in the db is not a mark of mediocrity.
If you want the game to be remembered, you can add it to other game databases such as Mobygames. You can even add it to IMDB!

Reply

You must be logged in to reply to this thread.