Game inclusion in the DB

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#1 by beliar
2016-02-05 at 17:45
The recent changes to our game inclusion in the DB requirements made some things easier, but also left it harder to judge certain games.
On one hand we finally got rid of the narrative requirement for pure visual novels (good riddance), on the other hand, now I find it hard to determine if certain games with gameplay are or are not visual novels. Thus I would like if other mods and members of the community gave me a hand.

First game I want to point your attention to is Seiyuu Danshi, a recently funded yaoi dating sim on Kickstarter. There is a demo available to try it. The game is made up of pure dialogue with stat raising gameplay and some map movement. However, the gameplay seems to be relatively non-intrusive (at least as far as I saw from demo).
For now I slightly lean towards including the game in the DB, but would like a second opinion on the matter.

Another game is Planet Stronghold: Colonial Defense. It's a sequel to Planet Stronghold, which was removed from the DB, as it was just an RPG and not a VN. "Colonial Defence" strongly expands the story elements and reduces the gameplay. Additionally, it's actually possible to play the game without the battles if you choose the "visual novel mode". Still, the game is basically made up of dialogue with only 2 or 3 lines of narration within the first two hours during my demo playthrough.
I seriously have no strong opinion about this game and cannot make up my mind if it's a VN or not..

Additionally, you might want to take a look at this post by usagi t2108.1348. His mention of Long Live The Queen and Magical Diary: Horse Hall is especially noteworthy, as these games are primarily raising sims. I have tried the demo of Long Live The Queen, and really do not consider it a VN. The stat based gameplay totally consumes that game with very little of it that can be called a visual novel.

Anyway, I invite a discussion regarding these titles and others you might have doubts about.
#2 by usagi
2016-02-05 at 20:53
Judging by current rules link :

"..Visual Novel / Game hybrids that have the following characteristics:
The game consistently uses the novel narrative for telling its story. Examples include describing visuals, events, character actions or thoughts.
This point is ESSENTIAL - dialogues, no matter how extensive, are a characteristic of such game genres as RPGs, adventure games, dating simulations, etc., NOT of visual novels..."

- these games are not vns. First game is pure sim, second can be hybrid but they don't use narration constantly.
How people here are ready to abide guidelines is another question though..Last modified on 2016-02-05 at 21:02
#3 by soulless-one
2016-02-05 at 23:07
If a hybrid game has a game mode which results in an experience compatible with the first rule set, I think it's reasonable to include it in the database. (I.e. no narrative requirement for hybrid games with pure VN mode.)
#4 by savagetiger
2016-02-06 at 00:19
Is stuff like Seiyuu Danshi and Magical Diary any more involved in the stat raising part then something like Tokimeki Memorial? As long as the point of the game is reading the story scenes in VN style and you're not playing the game solely for the stat raising I think they're fine.
#5 by ginseigou
2016-02-06 at 02:43
What about adding King of Dragon Pass? It's very similar to Long Live The Queen.Last modified on 2016-02-06 at 02:44
#6 by pabloc
2016-02-06 at 11:02
I haven't played all of the games mentioned here, but here are my opinions:
- Whenever something has ANY gameplay (RPG, stat-raising or whatever), then it can be included only based on the 2st rule set, as a hybrid, no matter how "non-intrusive" that gameplay is. Only really insignificant mini-games are allowed in the 1st rule set (think of the baseball mini-game from Little Busters as the upper limit). If that Yaoi sim has stats and stuff, then it should have narration to be included here. Dating sim with not-too-intrusive gameplay is still a dating sim.
- When something has a mode that has no gameplay at all (not a single RPG battle or anything), then it can be included here. But I'd list it as an exception with a suitable explanation that only one specific mode can be considered a VN, not the entire game. Kinda like BlazBlue, where story mode is a valid VN hybrid, while other modes have nothing to do with a VN.
- Long Live The Queen and Magical Diary: Horse Hall should have been deleted a long time ago... -.-'
- I'm not familiar with Tokimeki Memorial though, so I can't say much about it.
- King of Dragon Pass? Nope.
#7 by rbashal
2016-02-06 at 11:35
@1
His mention of Long Live The Queen and Magical Diary: Horse Hall is especially noteworthy, as these games are primarily raising sims.

Yeah, like Steins Gate is primarily a phone-answering sim.
Oh and did you know Crusader Kings is actually a visual novel?

I have tried the demo of Long Live The Queen, and really do not consider it a VN. The stat based gameplay totally consumes that game with very little of it that can be called a visual novel.
Did you play it more than 3 minutes?
It does lack proper scene transition narrative, which is jarring, because it is not random.

@5
KoDP is a text-based 4X with gamebook elements. LLTQ is a VN with RPG elements. They are not similar. I would not include KoDP unless you go by usagi's logic and also Fighting Fantasy is now considered VNs.

About that last part. link
#8 by beliar
2016-02-06 at 11:38
Erm... Ginsengou, we are talking here about removing certain fringe games like LLTQ, not adding even more games like it. Admittedly I have never played King of Dragon Pass, but from the screens I saw that doesn't appear to belong here.
#9 by kiru
2016-02-06 at 12:26
I still think a lot is about the "feel" when it comes to the question if something is a VN or not.

If you get a huge amount of tiny scenes separated by some form of gameplay (i.e. stat-based gameplay), then I'd not consider it a VN. (simply choosing a scene should be fine though)
Rpgs usually don't have long uninterrupted scenes. More often than not you even run from cut-scene to cut-scene instead of having one long one. That's generally a good way to see if something is or isn't a VN. (i.e. Persona 3/4 are like that. No matter how little "gameplay" you may have, you still are essentially running from scene to scene and the gameplay holds everything together)

Similarly I'd also call something like Kamidori an Rpg. The only thing separating it from how current Atelier games work is its narration. (since VNs can rely on visuals and audio to "narrate" stuff a book would need a narrator for, this isn't really giving Kamidori an advantage if you ask me)
Everything else is more or less the same. Short character-events all over the town that activate based on story-chapter progress. (or friendship/level progress) You primarily play the game and get interrupted by cutscenes you choose or that trigger after completing a quest or synthesis.

On the other hand you have Tears to Tiara 2. Has no narration whatsoever. But not only do you only have like 5-10 minutes of gameplay during the first 10 hours, the general "feeling" of the game is also "story interrupted by gameplay". Though that might change as the game continues, and it DOES offer free battles. Aselia is also like that. You primarily follow a story. Don't think there are optional free battles here.
Then you have Yumina, which is also like that if it weren't for the dungeon-crawler part. But the two segments (VN-story part with minor battles rarely interrupting, and the crawler part) are so separated, it's a rather good example for a "hybrid" I feel. It certainly is part VN and part not-VN. Kinda like the Ar Tonelico series, just more obvious.


If you mostly play and have "cutscenes", then it's not a VN. If you mostly read and get interrupted by gameplay, then it is a VN. This also implies that a VN obviously has to have a fair amount of reading-time at once. While for rpgs a 20 minute cutscene is usually an exception, for VNs it should be more of a norm.
But, while we can discuss as much as we want about this, as long as we have weird exceptions allowed, things will always stay problematic. If we want to have a specific game stay (i.e. Kamidori) we NEED to catch it with rules I'd think. Saying hybrids with a lot of gameplay need narration would let Kamidori stay, but kill Tears to Tiara 2. (which is probably more of a VN than Kamidori, seeing how many people quit it because of "TOO MUCH READING, WHERE IS THE GAMEPLAY!!")
So that might not be the best thing. Narration has become somewhat of a design-choice. I feel like VNs with more budget leave that out, as they want to have everything voiced, while for most others, narration is a good way to save voice-acting cost while still offering more "text"/length. If you have more budget, you can also use sound-effects and graphics to "narrate". Though at some point we do get into "interactive movie" territory, which is another problem.

So many problems.. it almost feels like trying to isolate VNs is a futile thing. It's a sub-genre and genres traditionally cross-over with others a lot.
#10 by dk382
2016-02-06 at 12:41
Long Live the Queen and Magical Diary... I honestly thought those were deleted a while ago. They're still here? Ehhh... Yeah, let's get rid of them. They really aren't Visual Novels by any stretch of the definition.

Planet Stronghold Colonial Defence is a lot trickier. If it didn't have "Visual Novel Mode" I'd say it would definitely go. You know what? Games that allow you to experience the whole story in its entirety with zero gameplay should be allowed here based on the first criteria, I think. If someone wants to experience that game as a visual novel according to our criteria, they can do so and we should respect that.

As for Seiyuu Danshi, most dating sims have fairly unobtrusive gameplay and plenty of dialogue. That doesn't really making them visual novels. I don't think we should include it until the full game comes out and we can judge it more thoroughly.

@7
"Raising Sim" is a pretty specific and widely-accepted genre LLtQ falls into, I don't really understand why you're being so snarky.

edit: If we want to go further down this rabbit hole, we can look at some games Eacil brought up recently. Starting with True Love ~Jun'ai Monogatari~, a dating sim. I haven't touched it so I can't say anything about it one way or another, but on the surface it doesn't sound like the kind of game that fits our criteria.

And also the Ar Tonelico series (link). They're JRPGs with some kinda lengthy VN segments tossed in there but overall make up a small percentage of the time you spend with the game. I also haven't played this one at all. I'm sure this was debated before at some point but I probably wasn't around for that. My gut reaction says they don't belong here but I'm really unsure just how significant the VN segments are, and if they match our criteria.Last modified on 2016-02-06 at 12:46
#11 by warfoki
2016-02-06 at 12:48
If you are in a deleting spree anyway, maybe it would be high time to get rid of Gadget Trial. I get that it's popular, but this is not a VN. After the first few tutorials, you have a 1-3 hour long map to beat, then a 2-3 minutes long, pure dialogue ADV style cutscene, then another several hours long map. So it's as much of a visual novel, as a Red Alert game is a movie.Last modified on 2016-02-06 at 12:49
#12 by pabloc
2016-02-06 at 12:55
@Kiru
Yeah, narration is very far from perfect, but we don't have anything else at the moment. "Uninterrupted story" was already discussed, and while everyone liked this idea, nobody managed to make a useful criterion out of it. It was only multiplying exceptions like Kamidori or Rance, that were included here even though they never met that requirement.
The only real solution would be kicking out every single title with any gameplay (other than stuff typical for pure VNs), but we want to keep the database a little bit more open for borderline titles (but only a little bit).

Some cases are about the "feel" indeed. Rules will NOT eliminate those completely - the best they can do is reducing the number of exceptions as much as possible (without flooding the DB with stuff we don't want here). For now, narration criterion does the trick - it easily excludes a lot of non-VN games without generating too many exceptions. If TtT2 doesn't have narration but "feels like a VN" nevertheless, it's one of those unavoidable exceptions.
Pointing out flaws in rules is easy. Proviging solutions is the tricky part. :P
#13 by ginseigou
2016-02-06 at 13:01
Erm... Ginsengou, we are talking here about removing certain fringe games like LLTQ, not adding even more games like it. Admittedly I have never played King of Dragon Pass, but from the screens I saw that doesn't appear to belong here.
#8 Well I thought if it would not be removed anyway, why not add more games like this?
#14 by beliar
2016-02-06 at 13:02
I think that deleting every game that breaks the rules would open a can of worms we surely do not want opened. A lot of games on the DB are definitely about "feels". I myself sometimes used the criteria "if it feels a VN - it belongs here". For example, I would fight tooth and nail against the removal of 'Little Witch Romanesque'.

For now let's focus strictly on the games that are not VNs in any shape on form. I think I'll give some love to the demos of LLTQ and Magical Diary later today, and will remove them if they cannot pass the final scrutiny.
#15 by kilicool64
2016-02-06 at 14:37
I'd like to use this opportunity to suggest removing Digital: A Love Story. As far as I remember from when I played it years ago, its story doesn't use conventional VN presentation methods and there's a fairly high amount of gameplay. IIRC, the non-interactive parts where you're just reading never last too long either.
#16 by minah
2016-02-06 at 17:05
I agree that Digital: A Love Story isn't a VN by the criteria being set out. But I'm inclined to see its relation to other VNs in the database as an argument for keeping it. Same for other borderline games like Tales of Aravorn: Seasons Of The Wolf. Sorry, I'm probably opening up a new can of worms here =/
#17 by beliar
2016-02-06 at 17:16
I agree with Minah. 'Digital' might not be truly a VN, but its sequels are. I lean towards leaving the entry alone due to its relations to the other titles.

Never played Aravorn, but 'Loren', which was set in the same world had a VN mode which removed battles. Doesn't Aravorn have one too?
#18 by ginseigou
2016-02-06 at 17:44
Same for other borderline games like Tales of Aravorn: Seasons Of The Wolf.
These are basically gamebooks with RPG elements like King of Dragon Pass.
#19 by [deleted]
2016-02-06 at 18:09
lol more borderline exceptions now random passerby's will be confused as to why Planet Stronghold isnt on VNDB but PSCD currently is.

its gonna get out of hand if the rules start to allow things like this,
"1 game in the series is VN but this 2nd isnt but the 3rd one is sort of a VN so lets keep 2 because relations."
*this and other problems like it could be solved if we all annoy yorhel to speed up d8 3.1 "non-VN game relations to VN entries"

<list of my thoughts on what should be deleted removed as i can only go on by youtube videos/demos>Last modified on 2016-02-06 at 20:07
#20 by minah
2016-02-06 at 19:07
These are basically gamebooks with RPG elements
What?

its gonna get out of hand if the rules start to allow things like this,
"1 game in the series is VN but this 2nd isnt but the 3rd one is sort of a VN so lets keep 2 because relations."

How many series are there made up of VNs and non-VNs? That's a serious, non-rhetorical question. I can think of, like, three, but if it's actually pretty common, then making an exception would cause more problems than it would solve.
#21 by gabezhul
2016-02-06 at 19:34
^ There are a bunch of Nasuverse games (both official and fan-made) than can slip in with a "relation" clause. Same for a bunch of other doujin games. Touhou, anyone?
Not to mention, we have already had precedents for this: Melty Blood and its iterations were kept because they are treated as different releases of the same game (which was much more accurate a few years ago, and if we were really nitpicky we could remove all the releases save the first one) while Battle Moon Wars was removed because, while it featured Nasuverse characters, it wasn't actually a VN.

As for #19, I would say the AT games should stay, contrary of what DK382 might have said in #10 (btw, if you admit you know nothing of the series, why the hell are you going around passing judgement?) that "small percentage" of VN segments is around 40-50% depending on one's playstyle. The reason for that is already explained in d15#3: the Cosmosphere parts are long, uninterrupted VN segments, and in the case of the second game the three different heroines' sessions plus the obligatory Infelsphere segments can easily add up to more "playtime" than the actual gameplay and cutscenes combined.

No, the real question about the AT series is whether the VN segments themselves qualify, as they are very sparse with narration. In my personal opinion they do, and while the games would indeed be more at home at an RPG database, we cannot really just take out these VN segments and list only them, so I am of the opinion that they should be kept with the caveat in d15.
#22 by beliar
2016-02-06 at 19:39
Update regarding Magical Diary: Horse Hall.
I have just played through the demo and it's pretty obvious that the game should stay. It fulfills the second clause and uses consistent narration throughout the story sequences.
In my opinion it's a textbook example of a hybrid game.
#23 by minah
2016-02-06 at 19:45
@21 Thanks for the explanation. It's more complicated than I had thought, then. I was focusing more on series of VNs and games that maybe have VN elements but don't fit the criteria for conclusion on their own, without thinking about spinoff fighting games and stuff like that.Last modified on 2016-02-06 at 20:18
#24 by rbashal
2016-02-06 at 20:15
@21
How long is it to the Cosmosphere? I tried AT1 but quickly became sick of the grind, with no end in sight.
#25 by beliar
2016-02-06 at 20:21
Update regarding Long Live The Queen.
I have just finished the demo and my opinion is that it's not a VN. While it does use narration during the story sequences, LLTQ is primarily a game interrupted by short story scenes rather than a VN interrupted by gameplay.
In the end it functions as a raising sim and not a visual novel. I say that it breaks the "consistently and for a significant length" part of the second clause. Unless other mods raise any particular objections, tomorrow I will purge the game from the DB.

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