What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

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Juno
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What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#1 Post by Juno » Wed May 27, 2015 8:45 pm

Do you feel like calendars are only for specific kinds of games (like more interactive, dating-sim types)? What do you think about a more traditional VN with a top-right corner calendar of the month/day?

I feel my VN could easily work with or without one, but I'm leaning towards a calendar because the game is pretty time sensitive. There are a ton of events per month (actually, per week), and a definite end-type date to the game (it lasts about 8 - 9 months long), so I do feel it makes sense. Of course, I will end up doing whatever will best benefit my game, but I just wanted to get more opinions before making my decision (which is pretty much 85% leaning towards a calendar).

It has a pretty traditional VN gameplay and there isn't going to be an event every single day so some days will end up skipping. I just don't want it to seem awkward or skippy if it moves from May 1st one day then two scenes on May 3rd, then a major scene on May 4th.

I think my biggest concern is that, although there pretty much is an event every day or other day during those months, you only see certain event days depending on which path you are on, so time could skip up to a week at worst. Of course, if you go onto another path, you will find out what happened during that time. Would that bother you as a player?
Last edited by Juno on Wed May 27, 2015 9:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#2 Post by Sorakun » Wed May 27, 2015 9:02 pm

If time is a part of the gameplay or something that is helpful to the story, as it in helps you tell the story better then you should inplement it. VNs are all about telling a story (with a few exceptions), if you have a feature you can implement that will help tell that story better then implement it.

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Re: What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#3 Post by HiddenCreature » Wed May 27, 2015 9:26 pm

They're not typically required, unless you're playing a game where you have to prepare your character for upcoming events (like studying for an exam, so you increase your Intelligence stat).

In regards to your biggest concern, I don't think a calender is your ideal option, since you can apparently skip time based on a decision you've made.

There is no real-world item that applies to that, like a calender or planner. So you should probably just have a tab in the game's menu titled "Upcoming Events," and state that it's subject to change based on your actions. It'll be more straightforward and easier to understand.

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Re: What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#4 Post by trooper6 » Wed May 27, 2015 9:27 pm

Do what makes your game works best.
I don't have expectations of my VNs. I come to the experience and see what the artists creates.
I can imagine any number of different types of VNs were a calendar might be useful--dating sim, sure...but also any game where you have a deadline, any game where you have to manage time dependent resources (like food or candles). Any game where the time of day, season, month, whatever, might be important.

But calendars where you don't get all of the dates can also be used in interesting ways. The most obvious is when the conceit is diary entries or letters or memories...things where you might not have all the data. And missing dates could be no big deal, or a part of a mystery.

Anyway, do what you want to do.
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Re: What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#5 Post by Juno » Wed May 27, 2015 11:44 pm

trooper6 wrote:Do what makes your game works best.
I don't have expectations of my VNs. I come to the experience and see what the artists creates.
I can imagine any number of different types of VNs were a calendar might be useful--dating sim, sure...but also any game where you have a deadline, any game where you have to manage time dependent resources (like food or candles). Any game where the time of day, season, month, whatever, might be important.

But calendars where you don't get all of the dates can also be used in interesting ways. The most obvious is when the conceit is diary entries or letters or memories...things where you might not have all the data. And missing dates could be no big deal, or a part of a mystery.

Anyway, do what you want to do.
Thanks, that makes me feel better. I like the idea of a calendar for many reasons and think it will be able to work pretty well--especially in having that linear timeline and knowing that a certain character will be doing something at a certain day and being able to look out for that event from a different angle in a different path. If that made any sense.
HiddenCreature wrote:They're not typically required, unless you're playing a game where you have to prepare your character for upcoming events (like studying for an exam, so you increase your Intelligence stat).

In regards to your biggest concern, I don't think a calender is your ideal option, since you can apparently skip time based on a decision you've made.

There is no real-world item that applies to that, like a calender or planner. So you should probably just have a tab in the game's menu titled "Upcoming Events," and state that it's subject to change based on your actions. It'll be more straightforward and easier to understand.
Oh yeah, I definitely have a good idea of a menu option in-game that will allow you to see your upcoming events as well as character info log (as well as other information the MC stores away--like messages). You can't really skip time based on decisions made, though. It's all pretty linear to the extent that it starts branching, and even in the branches, it is more like a different perspective (MC spends more time with specific characters) with the same linear events going on in the background. The only reason days would move from say May 12th to May 15th would only be because in another path, MC spends time with a different character on May 13th and 14th. Obviously the choices would lead to very different endings at the end of the months, though.

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Re: What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#6 Post by Kailoto » Thu May 28, 2015 4:02 am

I think for most games with time-sensitive content, a calendar is a good way to make sure the player has all the information they need to make educated decisions. A lot of VNs are small enough or have limited enough timelines that they're unnecessary, but I think for longer VNs where it's harder to keep track of the time, it's a good addition. It also works really well in school settings, which is why it shows up in most of those games.
Juno wrote:It's all pretty linear to the extent that it starts branching, and even in the branches, it is more like a different perspective (MC spends more time with specific characters) with the same linear events going on in the background. The only reason days would move from say May 12th to May 15th would only be because in another path, MC spends time with a different character on May 13th and 14th. Obviously the choices would lead to very different endings at the end of the months, though.
There's a game out there called Shuffle!, have you played it? It has the same temporal pacing that you're describing here. There's a fairly linear early section that determines what arc you play, and while all the arcs start from the same point and have shared events (like the beach trip or the pool opening), there's certain scenes that are unique to each arc and don't show up on the other arcs.

I'd also say to put extra attention into the design of the calendar interface, as it sounds like a savvy player will be spending a lot of time referring to it. Make sure that the design flows and has a clear art direction that complements the story. It'll add a lot to the overall satisfaction when playing it.
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Re: What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#7 Post by Juno » Thu May 28, 2015 6:40 pm

Kailoto wrote:I think for most games with time-sensitive content, a calendar is a good way to make sure the player has all the information they need to make educated decisions. A lot of VNs are small enough or have limited enough timelines that they're unnecessary, but I think for longer VNs where it's harder to keep track of the time, it's a good addition. It also works really well in school settings, which is why it shows up in most of those games.

There's a game out there called Shuffle!, have you played it? It has the same temporal pacing that you're describing here. There's a fairly linear early section that determines what arc you play, and while all the arcs start from the same point and have shared events (like the beach trip or the pool opening), there's certain scenes that are unique to each arc and don't show up on the other arcs.

I'd also say to put extra attention into the design of the calendar interface, as it sounds like a savvy player will be spending a lot of time referring to it. Make sure that the design flows and has a clear art direction that complements the story. It'll add a lot to the overall satisfaction when playing it.
Thanks. My game is kind of an academic setting so projects (and the end of the program) are the main deadlines to worry about. I definitely will make sure the design interface is created well. I'm pretty confident with the way the game will be designed in general, being able to refer to a calendar at any time would make perfect sense. I just got a pretty good inspiration on how I will incorporate the design now.

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Re: What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#8 Post by Facelord » Fri May 29, 2015 5:46 am

I think calendars are one of the best elements you can implement into a visual novel that takes place over three or more months. Great way to give the player a sense of urgency and a good way to add interactivity to the final product; even without interactivity, though, a calendar is a good way to keep the game's events fresh in the player's mind, or help them keep track of everything that's happened so far.

I'm planning on implementing a calendar into my VN, with some inspiration from the way the newer Persona games handle their storytelling but a little less linearity. My VN has a mystery with many layers, similar to a highly complex question arc in a game like Higurashi, and there's so much data to cover... I don't want the VN to be totally linear, I want everyone to have their own experiences, and calendars are the best for that.

Also, calendars would go great with budget management. For instance: character starts the game with a certain amount of money, rent is due on the 5th every month, player has to manage the character's funds carefully. If this were a dating sim, dates might eat into your budget but time spent working might eat into your dating time. Something to think about.

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Re: What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#9 Post by Jate » Fri May 29, 2015 3:46 pm

With a time sensitive game I think a calendar is a nice addition, and I wouldn't expect there to be day planner sort of aspects because of it being there. The fact that some days will skip makes me like the idea of a calendar for your game more, it allows the player to know that there's been a time skip, and how much time has been skipped, rather than being left totally out of the know. A calendar also makes it easy to dictate chapters, if your game is set up that way. Show a splash screen with the date, and the reader will get a feeling that something new is starting moreso than if the game simply continued.
Image
A notable example is Clannad, which while about dating, is a standard VN, and the date isn't even very relevant to the game, unlike yours. I found its presence charming rather than intrusive, and I think I'd feel the same with your game.

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Re: What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#10 Post by Juno » Fri May 29, 2015 5:45 pm

Facelord wrote:I think calendars are one of the best elements you can implement into a visual novel that takes place over three or more months. Great way to give the player a sense of urgency and a good way to add interactivity to the final product; even without interactivity, though, a calendar is a good way to keep the game's events fresh in the player's mind, or help them keep track of everything that's happened so far.
Absolutely. I was thinking that, as a player, seeing the months pass by in a game especially when I know something major will happen on a certain date would give me a lot of incentive to keep playing to see the event. I get frustrated in games when I don't have any idea of what is coming or the time frame is vague. Even if things are subject to change, I like to know what to expect at least a little to keep me anticipating what will happen.

Thanks for your input, it helps a lot.
Jate wrote:With a time sensitive game I think a calendar is a nice addition, and I wouldn't expect there to be day planner sort of aspects because of it being there. The fact that some days will skip makes me like the idea of a calendar for your game more, it allows the player to know that there's been a time skip, and how much time has been skipped, rather than being left totally out of the know. A calendar also makes it easy to dictate chapters, if your game is set up that way. Show a splash screen with the date, and the reader will get a feeling that something new is starting moreso than if the game simply continued.

A notable example is Clannad, which while about dating, is a standard VN, and the date isn't even very relevant to the game, unlike yours. I found its presence charming rather than intrusive, and I think I'd feel the same with your game.
This! I forgot to mention this part. I know most VNs, moreso dating sims, that have a calendar typically also have a weekly planner. I meant to ask if there would be an issue for most people without that weekly planner. I definitely wanted to show a splash screen for each month to let the player know how they are progressing.

Although there are dateable characters, my game is much more plot-heavy which is why I was concerned about the calendar's presence since it is not a typical dating sim or stat raiser. Thanks for your help.

I'm pretty positive that a calendar system will now be incorporated into my game.

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Re: What are your expectations on VNs with calendars?

#11 Post by Facelord » Fri May 29, 2015 6:00 pm

I'm glad to hear my post helped. :B

Another thing to consider, IF your VN has lots of complicated technical terms, is a glossary... but most VNs don't need that, yours may not. Just throwing that out there. I wish more fantasy VNs had glossaries, it's easy to forget made-up magical terms or whatever. Most of my future VNs will need glossaries, I do loads of technical writing.

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