Game inclusion in the DB

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#551 by sakurakoi
2019-11-04 at 09:50
@549 Obviously VN content is much less than gameplay while IIRC most don't have any narration except maybe for the prologue. It does not belong here just like JRPGs like the Atelier series. However I'd say more mind the "Western Adult Game DB" expansion to vndb than the "Anime Game DB" one but welp, arguing is meaningless, even if you were to do it with money (hopefully).


Meanwhile I can't help but love again how C(O)M3D2 is simply ignored yet again when indeed there is narration and read time by far outweighs game time unless you really can't help it (game hybrids should always be evaluated on "Tell me a story" difficulty, i.e the easiest one, regardless of perceived cheating or skipping like Venus Blood). Incidentally at least the English version of the Order version (could be the Order version itself) has subtitles for the adult content that would otherwise be voiced only.
#552 by dk382
2019-11-05 at 12:00
@549 Story of Seasons/Harvest Moon games aren't even in the same galaxy as VNs. I'm struggling to understand the logic of requesting their addition. Is it that you can marry some of the villagers? The existence of romance does not make a game eligible for our database. It in fact has no role in our criteria whatsoever. I would deny even the Rune Factory games, which have an order of magnitude more text. These are farming sims (+ RPGs, with the RF games), with some very light dating sim elements, not VNs.

@551 I dunno about the other mods, but I am not experienced with CM3D2 at all, and I haven't had any time to look into it. I'll say that on the surface, the game mode being described sounds legit.

Allow me to toss a game out here for discussion since I'm curious what people think about its potential inclusion as well as other games like it: Disco Elysium. You can see a more thorough description and many more screenshots in this review. It is a western RPG (CRPG we used to call them back in the day) in the point-and-click isometric style of Infinity Engine games like Baldur's Gate. However, there is no combat. There is not a whole lot of puzzle solving either (at least, not in the typical point and click adventure way). Instead, it's more of a watered-down point and click adventure where all the interactive stuff happens with text. Lots and lots and lots of text. The text is basically the whole game.

The case for is pretty straightforward: it is a game where the vast majority of your time is spent reading. It employs the novel narrative quite frequently. These two qualities are shared by another game (and others like it) that I know wouldn't fly here: Planescape Torment. Unlike PST, though, Disco Elysium has no combat or other ways to directly interact with the world except for occasions where you loot objects from containers. And while movement is driven by the point and click interface, as is deciding what objects or people you interact with, *everything* else is accomplished through the text interface. Which, again, is full of the novel narrative. Also unlike PST, the narrative does more than describe objects and the actions of NPCs. It also describes the player character's actions and thoughts (as you can see in the screenshot linked above). And it presents this in a way that, if you really want to stretch it, could be considered NVL, though it's not exactly the typical NVL format we see elsewhere since it's pushed off to the side of the screen. And it's not always present. That last fact is true for other hybrids, though.

I would argue that, in only slightly uncertain terms, it meets our criteria for inclusion as laid out in d2#1. The main differences between it and the many Japanese adventure games in our database (such as YU-NO) is that you move a character across maps in a point and click interface instead of moving to different screens via menu, and perhaps the volume of narration is higher in YU-NO if you don't count internal dialogue. (That's right, internal *dialogue*, not monologue. It's... weird.)

The case against it lies primarily in arguments that are harder to express in concrete terms, like how the narrative is player-driven, rather than driving forward on its own. (You could make the same argument against many of the adventure game hybrids here though.) Or it's stuff like how you can get repeat dialogues by clicking the same option twice. Or perhaps how the main character doesn't have any dialogue lines that the player doesn't pick themselves? These are things that we have never considered adding to the criteria, but maybe we should if we don't want games like Disco Elysium. It could also be considered the beginning of a slippery slope, paving the way for other CRPGs that are less all-in on the narrative experience. I'm not sure if that's a good reason to deny a game that would otherwise qualify, though.

I understand that a number of people might object to Disco Elysium, but if we want to disallow it, we'll need to come up with some pretty good reasons as to why. In my mind, it's not all that different from games like YU-NO.Last modified on 2019-11-05 at 12:07
#553 by eacil
2019-11-05 at 12:07
Are you kidding? Aren't you the guy who didn't want to include Tokyo Dark when I asked for it because
I'm not making an argument for or against this game in particular but I think in general, I'd say that games that have the gameplay well-integrated into the story qualify *less* than games where the distinction is large with completely separate gameplay and story segments. Because then you could at least say that there are distinct VN sections and non-VN sections and games can qualify for having a large amount of VN gameplay. But when you merge VN-style gameplay with other styles of gameplay, they become something else entirely and no longer qualify. This is a large part of the reason we removed Long Live the Queen.

But then again, I'm of the opinion that the original style of ADV games from the '80s and '90s probably don't even qualify as VNs, and the only reason I don't argue for their removal is because of their historical ties to the VN genre.
???
#554 by dk382
2019-11-05 at 12:13
That is a very fair argument. Also a part of the reason why I didn't outright say that I think we should add Disco Elysium. I only said that I think it qualifies. I honestly am still unsure about it, and that's why I want to open a discussion about it. If possible, I'd like to hammer down WHY exactly a game like Disco Elysium shouldn't qualify if we are to disallow it, and what makes those original ADV games different, since I think DE shares some blood with those.

edit: If you read my post above again, you'll find that my misgivings with adding DE are very similar to the misgivings I voiced about Tokyo Dark. And back then, although I leaned in that direction, I wasn't 100% for keeping Tokyo Dark deleted (that's why I clarified in that post that I wasn't arguing against TD specifically).

I guess the point of my post is that Disco Elysium is changing my point of view somewhat, and I'd like to more clearly pin down what exactly it is about these kinds of interactive narratives that are and are not acceptable.Last modified on 2019-11-05 at 12:24
#555 by adamstan
2019-11-05 at 12:20
what makes those original ADV games different, since I think DE shares some blood with those.

Yeah, it indeed seems close, with its lack of combat and walls of text. I seems that the main difference is location of textbox, and third-person animated view instead of static first-person screens.

I'm of the opinion that the original style of ADV games from the '80s and '90s probably don't even qualify as VNs, and the only reason I don't argue for their removal is because of their historical ties to the VN genre.

That's a thing too. VNs kind of evolved from those games, but that was years ago, so while they are kept in database for historical reasons (and I'm glad that they are, since I cannot imagine any other place suitable for them), I'm not sure if current adventure games should be added.Last modified on 2019-11-05 at 12:26
#556 by dk382
2019-11-05 at 12:27
Also, I actually forgot about Tokyo Dark. We never actually made a final decision about that (beliar and I both punted on the issue and then forgot about it), so perhaps we can use this moment to do so for that as well.
#557 by yorhel
2019-11-05 at 12:39
Meh.

In my opinion, any game that interrupts your reading every damn minute for whatever reason other than click-to-advance-the-text is *not* a visual novel. I'd have liked that to be part of the guidelines, but the reason that didn't happen is because it'd exclude all the old school ADVs. I personally wouldn't mind getting rid of those, but, ehm, the opposition would be fierce indeed. :P

If you want a good reason to exclude Disco Elysium, we can update the guidelines with a "stop interrupting people!" rule and make a specific exception for old ADVs (however we define *that*).
#558 by skorpiondeath
2019-11-05 at 19:40
@dk382: Even if completly OOT I couldn't resist on post this when I saw "Planescape Torment". Being one of the best game I ever played I was curious to know if Disco Elysium is half as good.

@yorhel: in the spare time you should make a parallel site to VNDB. A place for adventure games and gdr. You can keep the same site logic with a plain new db. There are rpg games (like the aforementioned Planescape Torment) that should not be forgotten!! :P
#559 by kiru
2019-11-05 at 21:36
Honestly, I don't consider "roleplaying" a novel. If the player has 100% control over the text said by their "avatar" (though it can also be quite a bit less), then it's roleplaying through and through. Roleplaying simply has a lot of text, and doesn't need any battles. That's how it goes. Think table-top roleplaying here as well.

A novel wants to tell a story, and while player interaction is allowed to have influence, there's a limit. Otherwise you simply go away from the idea of telling a story to letting the player roleplay in a world. Two different things. And from the looks of it, that's exactly what this Disco Elysium game sells itself at. Roleplaying. Not a novel.Last modified on 2019-11-05 at 21:39
#560 by butterflygrrl
2019-11-05 at 23:04
Pretty sure there are clear JVNs where the player has total control over everything the character says (usually in these games the character doesn't talk very much, and/or the choices are all slight tone differences of the same thing) and plenty of RPGs where the player has zero control over the character's dialog and is just going through a fixed story.
#561 by beliar
2019-11-05 at 23:16
I am in agreement with Yorhel and Kiru here. Anything that interrupts your reading every few minutes for you to walk somewhere and to perform certain actions cannot be called a novel anymore. This "Disco Elysium" thingy is basically "The Longest Journey" minus the puzzles. In other words an incredibly chatty adventure game. And frankly, after watching a few videos on Youtube, I would add TLJ to the DB before I would even entertain a thought of adding Disco Elysium.

Actually, now that I think about it, constant interruptions was exactly the reason I used to kick "Long Live The Queen" out of the database and started a massive shitstorm. It would be incredibly hypocritical to fight so hard to remove LLTQ, but to allow Disco Elysium, when the games basically have the same game to text structure, i.e. a few minutes of story followed by a few minutes of gameplay, followed by a few minutes of story and so on.

Moreover, I also agree with Kiru's sentiment that the player character having too much agency is directly at odds what a novel is. Once you start only selecting your answers and seeing how various characters react to your choices, you are not reading a book anymore, you are roleplaying.

If we are thinking about creating an amendment to the rules, that would preclude the games like Disco Elysium, The Walking Dead or Life is Strange from being included in the DB, we could say that the protagonist shouldn't have so much agency that his interaction with the world would negatively affect the flow of the narrative storytelling.

And yeah, many of the old games on the DB are not really visual novels, but they can be protected under the precursor clause, i.e. the games that shaped the development of the visual novels as a storytelling medium can stay in the database, but shouldn't be used as an example why similar modern games should be included.
#562 by dk382
2019-11-06 at 00:36
Actually, now that I think about it, constant interruptions was exactly the reason I used to kick "Long Live The Queen" out of the database and started a massive shitstorm. It would be incredibly hypocritical to fight so hard to remove LLTQ, but to allow Disco Elysium, when the games basically have the same game to text structure, i.e. a few minutes of story followed by a few minutes of gameplay, followed by a few minutes of story and so on.

I think you are heavily mischaracterizing Disco Elysium here. Very heavily. You present Disco Elysium as being equal parts text and gameplay while being constantly interrupted. DE is like 80% to 90% text. You will frequently spend 15 minutes reading, go click around the game world for a minute, and then spend another 15 minutes reading. That's more of the flow. It gets more broken up if you consider dialogue choice selection an interruption, but DE's mesh with the game so seamlessly that it doesn't feel like an interruption. (But perhaps that itself can be a ding against it?) Meanwhile, LLTQ's text is primarily what I would consider "system text," or basically text that plainly explains the results of your actions, while DE's text is almost entirely there to serve the narrative. The comparison you're drawing is not apt. I also think DE stands apart from other adventure games due to both the sheer amount of text and the narrative prose being employed (I don't understand the comment about TLJ at all in light of this, as that does not meet the novel narrative requirement that DE does).

I think the argument about player agency or general interactivity is a fair way to draw the line. Creating some kind of rubric for the frequency of player input that the game demands would be a smart addition to the inclusion criteria. (The more player input that is required, the less of a VN it is.) But does that include choice selection? Counting choices as player input would be the definitive way to disqualify Disco Elysium.

Perhaps something like "The VN-like story segments must be capable of proceeding without regularly requiring player input, which includes dialogue choices and cuts to gameplay. If the reading experience does not regularly go for longer than a couple minutes without interruption, then it should not be added." Thoughts?

If we do this, we should definitely add oldschool ADVs as a special exemption in the list:

- Old school Japanese ADV games
This includes games such as Snatcher, Policenauts, YU-NO, and Cobra. These are heavily text-based narrative experiences that became the progenitor of the modern Visual Novel. They are preserved here due to their historical significance to the medium, and should not be used as the basis for adding similar modern titles.

When I started this discussion, I was about 50/50 on whether we should add DE. After this discussion, I'm more 25/75 against it, but still not 100%. I think it's easy to undersell just how much of a damn book this game is. :pLast modified on 2019-11-06 at 07:58
#563 by ginseigou
2019-11-06 at 08:19
If Disco Elysium is not a vn, then 80 days, Dangan ronpa, Zero Escape, Ace Attorney should not be here too. Especially 80 Days, where you are constantly interrupted by choices every 10 seconds and this game has gameplay parts.Last modified on 2019-11-06 at 09:45
#564 by adamstan
2019-11-06 at 09:00
Well, TBH Ace Attorney is already treated as an exception ;)
#565 by kiru
2019-11-06 at 09:14
Zero Escape 1+2 is a completely normal VN for long enough times. The gameplay parts are very separate and the novel parts have essentially no choices. Danganronpa and especially Ace Attorney are exceptions, yeah. Danganronpa is still trying to tell a story though, which you can't really affect much similar to VNs. (i.e. who dies when) Ace Attorney's story is just an excuse for its gameplay. At least that's how it was in the first one. Maybe that improved later on. It didn't even want you to have 20 lines of text without any player interaction.Last modified on 2019-11-06 at 09:15
#566 by beliar
2019-11-09 at 14:08
In response to t12990, I have checked the game out and I agree with the OP that the game does not belong here. It's basically Bejeweled with some very short VN interludes. And while those interludes do feature narration, the ratio of gameplay to novel is very clearly skewed towards gameplay.

I have spent about an hour with the game and during that time I spent about ten minutes reading and 50 minutes playing a Match3 game.

I will remove the game later, so if anyone has any objections, please come forward.
#567 by butterflygrrl
2019-11-09 at 15:59
Perhaps something like "The VN-like story segments must be capable of proceeding without regularly requiring player input, which includes dialogue choices and cuts to gameplay. If the reading experience does not regularly go for longer than a couple minutes without interruption, then it should not be added." Thoughts?

#566 There's specifically a tag for games where you can't go more than a few minutes without making a choice, and a huge number of games listed under it.

link "In many cases, you won't be able to play for more than five minutes without seeing a new choice."

While to some people the "novel" aspect of a visual novel is paramount and therefore few choices are desirable, to other players the "gamebook" aspect of a visual novel is what defines the genre, and a high number of meaningful choices makes it a better example, not a worse one.

Interactive story has been there from the very beginning of the genre. Old-school ADVs are less popular nowadays and few of them are made, but it seems really wrong to me to suggest that what this whole hobby was built on is now something that should be excluded from it.

This is not me arguing in favor of Disco Elysium. That game describes itself as a role-playing game first and foremost, and that's really probably the most useful characteristic here. Same reason for not including Planescape Torment or other classic narrative-heavy RPGs. They're not VNs and not trying to be.

IMO 80 Days is less of a VN than Long Live The Queen is. Most of its story isn't even visual.Last modified on 2019-11-09 at 16:06
#568 by beliar
2019-11-09 at 16:27
"The VN-like story segments must be capable of proceeding without regularly requiring player input, which includes dialogue choices and cuts to gameplay.
I think that Decay worded that pretty badly. As it is I mostly don't agree with his statement.

I don't consider neither choices, nor the old-school Think/Talk/Walk mechanics to be gameplay, but rather part of the story.

"Disco Elysium" is different in that regard. Rather than choices being a natural extension of the story that result in branching, DE has choices in every conversation, where they are used to interact with the world rather than to advance the story.

It's similar to the games like "VTM: Bloodlines", where the MC gets numerous selections, which you can use to familiarize yourself with the setting or to get side-quests. It's a basic RPG mechanic, and DE basically replicates it to a T, which is why the game is described as a role playing game and not a VN. And note, that western devs really love using the description "visual novel", even when the game has little to do with the genre, which is very telling...
#569 by yorhel
2019-11-09 at 16:42
to other players the "gamebook" aspect of a visual novel is what defines the genre, and a high number of meaningful choices makes it a better example, not a worse one.
Those other players are then confusing "visual novel" with "interactive fiction", for which there is a different database*. Not only are kinetic novels a thing, I'd say they are the purest form of visual novel - there's literally no other genre mixed in. Of course, for other games there's a huge overlap between VN and IF, my point is that choices are a defining factor for IF but certainly not for VNs.

(*I've been looking around for their inclusion criteria, but haven't had much luck. Their catalogue seems inconsistent at a quick glance.)
#570 by palas
2019-11-09 at 17:01
I don't think - and that is coming from someone who as always pestered mods for including this or that - Disco Elysium can be classified as a VN. Because although it *employs* novel narrative, it's basically all for flavor because all the information you need to progress is already elsewhere - and the text that is not novel narrative is very clearly the translation of another game mechanic.
#571 by butterflygrrl
2019-11-09 at 17:22
The interactive fiction database used to require games to be 100% text (for that matter, they used to be described as "text adventures") but things got more confusing as some of the old-school traditional engines started including HTML and graphic options. Since then, as best as I know, they've had an impossible task in order to try and define what qualifies without leaving out people being experimental, since they encourage experimentation and have regularly had a lot of arty academics involved in the community. So they'll probably accept anything willing to make an argument about why it should qualify.

Of course, depending on how you define "choice", choices are absolutely not a defining factor for interactive fiction, since much of it has no branching whatsoever.

kinetic novels are definitely a thing, but a substantial number of VN fans hate them and discard them as "not VNs". by their logic that's the whole reason they have a different name.

ask five people, get six definitions, I guess!
#572 by beliar
2019-11-10 at 13:41
No one contested my post #566, so the game Tasty Shame in Silver Soul! gets an axe. To be implemented immediately.
#573 by adamstan
2019-11-10 at 17:31
ask five people, get six definitions, I guess!

It's also worth noting that "visual novel" is a name that seems to be used mostly in the West. (Yeah, I know it was coined by Leaf, but apparently it hasn't caught on).
In Japanese internet most of the JVNs are still classified as "adventure games". For example, Japanese Wikipedia page for Konosora calls it 美少女アドベンチャーゲーム ("bishoujo adventure game"). Apparently, for them, getting rid of "Look/Say/Think" interface doesn't make enough difference to make a new genre name.

Other examples (from Japanese Wiki):
- Mashiro Iro Symphony - 恋愛アドベンチャーゲーム ("Romance adventure game")
- Ano Harewataru Sora yori Takaku - アドベンチャー ("Adventure")
- Sanoba Witch - 恋愛アドベンチャーゲーム ("Romance adventure game")
- Clannad - 恋愛アドベンチャーゲーム ("Romance adventure game")
- Air - 恋愛アドベンチャーゲーム ("Romance adventure game")

If I'm not mistaken, storefronts such as DLSite or Getchu also call them "adventure games".

And, while such anecdotal evidence might not be worth much, when I talked with some Japanese acquaintances, and they asked me what kind of games I play, saying "visual novel" drew a blank ;) For some reason at that moment I forgot the term "bishoujo game" (and wanted to avoid saying "eroge" upfront), so I mentioned Konosora as an example. They looked it up, and said "Ah, bishoujo adventure game" and recognized the genre.

So, while I defiinitely see usefulness of "Visual Novel" term, for separating Japanese-style adventure games from Western point'n'click titles, I think that it shouldn't be taken too literally (by that I mean, we shouldn't get too bent on the "Novel" word), especially since most of the VN developers don't care, or even know about it, and vndb's criteria - they still think they are making "just" adventure games ;)

Still, after all I agree that Disco Elysium doesn't belong on vndb - as said eariler by butterflygrrl:
That game describes itself as a role-playing game first and foremost, and that's really probably the most useful characteristic here. Same reason for not including Planescape Torment or other classic narrative-heavy RPGs. They're not VNs and not trying to be.

While it has walls of text, it is different enough to not be mistaken with JADVs ;) Differences might seem small on a glance, but I feel they are significant enough.Last modified on 2019-11-10 at 18:03
#574 by palas
2019-11-11 at 11:29
for something proposed by some to be a full on medium, visual novels sure struggle to fulfill even the most basic requirements to even be their own genre lol
#575 by eacil
2019-11-11 at 12:00
Because you are able to give me a crystal clear definition of what a RPG is, maybe?

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