Adding gameplay features without minigames

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Sonomi
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Adding gameplay features without minigames

#1 Post by Sonomi » Wed May 03, 2017 6:18 pm

Do you find cell phones or in-game websites obtrusive? I'm just curious because I have been thinking about adding little features like those. Essentially, the idea is to add interactive elements without necessarily delving into minigame or stat raising territory.

The purpose of the cell phone would be calling or texting friends in the game, and the website would just be there for story-related web browsing with a few limited sites. Nothing skill based, so to speak. How do you feel about this, in general?
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Re: Adding gameplay features without minigames

#2 Post by parttimestorier » Wed May 03, 2017 6:48 pm

I think those are fun and can definitely make the reader feel more involved in the story if they're done well. You might want to read Steins;Gate (if you haven't already) for an example of a VN that uses cell phones throughout it. I personally thought there were positives and negatives to the way they used them. Parts where you had to actually get out the phone to make a call or something were definitely more immersive than typical ways of providing choices. But while getting text messages from the characters was fun, it was kind of annoying how hard it was to tell what kind of reply you were sending when you clicked on them, and you would need to mess around with that potentially annoying stuff a whole lot if you wanted to figure out how to get to the true ending without a guide. Don't Take It Personally . . . and several other VNs by the same creator also use a lot of in-game websites and other elements like that!
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Re: Adding gameplay features without minigames

#3 Post by Shinoki » Wed May 03, 2017 7:27 pm

I really enjoy the little interactive aspects like phone websites, forums, etc. in games.

For one, VA-11 HALL-A's phone's forums and websites were really quite fun to look through for the random tabloid news and whatnot. In the game, you get the meet some odd personalities ranging from 'police' to idols to strange tabloid writer dudes while being a bartender. The story is very enjoyable standing alone, but you also get to browse through websites and stuff on your phone. There's some funny stuff, but there's also in-story news that relate to the characters you get to meet as a bartender, making the VA-11 HALL-A world more real and all that.

When it comes to texting and calling, I'm not too sure about that. It's kind of that I've been reinforced with the attitude that those types of interactions in games tend to be more vital to the plot (ie. choices in Steins;Gate apparently, the whole set-up of Mystic Messenger), so it gives me a bit more tension to choose the right choice.

With texting and calling, if it's part of the story, something that adds to the story like extra world building or whatnot, just add it into the story as part of the plot instead of as an interactive feature. Though if it's something like scrolling through old text logs, that'd be fine too.

Eh, just my two cents.

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Re: Adding gameplay features without minigames

#4 Post by Imperf3kt » Wed May 03, 2017 8:11 pm

These sound like interactives.
I personally wish more games had them as they give extra depth and allow for user-interpreted backstory.
I find this much better than being spoon-fed information.

But... In moderation.

As much as I love this stuff, it gets bothersome having to keep checking emails or forums etc for some minor factoid. I know I've simply stopped bothering on some games where there are things like scattered messages / letters / e-mails simply because of the extremely verbose nature of otherwise trivial information (I'm looking at you, Horizon Zero Dawn and you too, The Talos Principle)
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Re: Adding gameplay features without minigames

#5 Post by Sonomi » Wed May 03, 2017 9:17 pm

@parttimestorier

I agree! Steins;Gate is actually my favorite visual novel. Although I have to admit, it really is difficult to get the True End without a guide. To address the negatives, you said that it was hard to tell what kind of reply you were sending. Do you think it would be better to put choices on the screen? That way you can know exactly what your character is going to send back. :)

@Shinoki

Everything you described is what I like about it too! Persona 5 has a cell phone feature like the one you mentioned, where it's added to the story as part of the plot and I thought that was pretty neat. Persona in general just has so many awesome game mechanics, especially the idea of social links from Persona 4. That would be perfect for a visual novel I think.

You make a good point on the stress of choosing the right option. I feel the same way, agonizing over the choices because I want to say one thing but I find myself asking: Wait, will the character get mad if I say that? Is this going to affect some hidden affection points? I don't know if they like marshmallows more than ice cream, which one should I pick? lol And to be honest, I really want to avoid that. It's supposed to be a fun rather than stressful!

Ah...maybe I can make it so there are no "right" options. In that case, you can just choose whatever you feel like saying to get a cute, funny, or ticked response from whoever you're chatting with just for entertainment purposes. My thing is that I want this to an interactive way to get to know the characters better and just...have banter I suppose. Exactly how I'm going to do that, I'm not quite sure. It's my hope to work out a system where the characters will remember previous conversations with you, but it's not going to have any kind of long term negative affect.

Well. No, I shouldn't say that because if you kept picking the "be mean" option then the characters should probably get upset about that...ehh. Maybe it would work as a subplot, something separate from the main story and perhaps part of a character arc instead.

@Imperf3kt

Oh, I understand your point on moderation. I would just try to make into something that is entirely optional. Similar to how you can choose routes in a game, but not necessary to finish the game. It could serve to add depth to the characters and more one on one interactions with those characters you really want to talk to or hang out with more. Like a side plot. I've played games before where it had specific characters I wanted to get a bit more interactions with, so I thought hey...I could add that option through a feature or something like this. But as far as making it mandatory, probably not.
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Re: Adding gameplay features without minigames

#6 Post by barefootchuck39 » Wed May 10, 2017 4:22 pm

In Akiba'sTrip (not a vn, but video game), the UI is the charcter's cell phone, i thought that's kinda neat. Also u get to unlock CG art to put it on the cellphone as wall paper.

There is a in game chat thingy that you read what goes on around and figuring out whos who on based on their conversation was kinda fun too.

Not sure how to integrate into a vn tho.

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Re: Adding gameplay features without minigames

#7 Post by parttimestorier » Wed May 10, 2017 7:18 pm

@parttimestorier

I agree! Steins;Gate is actually my favorite visual novel. Although I have to admit, it really is difficult to get the True End without a guide. To address the negatives, you said that it was hard to tell what kind of reply you were sending. Do you think it would be better to put choices on the screen? That way you can know exactly what your character is going to send back. :)
That's a good question! Direct choices would probably work but might take away from the immersion of using the in-game cell phone, so it's a hard decision. I wonder if using the same style that S;G did, where you click on one of two underlined phrases in the text, might still work depending on what the text was about. Or you could present choices like "friendly reply" or "unfriendly reply" or something, but design them so they look like they're buttons on the phone, instead of typical choice buttons in the middle of the screen.
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