Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

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Eirrir
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Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#1 Post by Eirrir » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:06 am

How do people feel about quick time events in visual novels? I am currently making a visual novel that contains more action than the usual visual novel story, and I thought quick time events would be a nice addition, especially to the suspense. I imagine the quick time events to be along the same lines of those in Telltale Games' The Walking Dead. However, I am worried that many people find these events annoying or even disruptive rather than immersive. On the other hand, I've also read reviews on visual novels that complain that there's no "gameplay." Perhaps, QTEs would add more variety or spice to the reading experience. Eager to hear some thoughts on this!

Also, I wonder if there has been a pure visual novel (e.g. not The Walking Dead, which has point-and-click elements) that has been able to implement QTEs effectively.
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Re: Quick Time Events in VIsual Novels

#2 Post by Ghost of Crux » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:11 am

For me it really depends on how you presented the VN overall and right before said events. The thing about quick time events and VNs is that someone playing a VN does not tend to play with immediate reactions ready in mind. When it suddenly pops up, it's understandably annoying and would probably make someone quit because maybe they haven't saved. But if you've already, from the beginning, shown that there will be quick time events, I think it's not a bad tool to use. Keep in mind that it's a tool, and the tool is only as bad as its implementation. It'll be a shame not to use something at all just because it doesn't fit genres that don't use it well. (eg. sudden QTE in slow VNs that give you a bad end is just mean, but stories that have already kept you on the edge because of heavy choices and pressing urgency would benefit from one or two QTE)

Being upfront and clear about instances where it'll happen is important, I think. Maybe start off the VN with one such scene? ie. Show that it exists right when player attention is at its height to make sure that they know it's coming up.
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Re: Quick Time Events in VIsual Novels

#3 Post by Eirrir » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:18 am

Ghost of Crux wrote:For me it really depends on how you presented the VN overall and right before said events. The thing about quick time events and VNs is that someone playing a VN does not tend to play with immediate reactions ready in mind. When it suddenly pops up, it's understandably annoying and would probably make someone quit because maybe they haven't saved. But if you've already, from the beginning, shown that there will be quick time events, I think it's not a bad tool to use. Keep in mind that it's a tool, and the tool is only as bad as its implementation. It'll be a shame not to use something at all just because it doesn't fit genres that don't use it well. (eg. sudden QTE in slow VNs that give you a bad end is just mean, but stories that have already kept you on the edge because of heavy choices and pressing urgency would benefit from one or two QTE)

Being upfront and clear about instances where it'll happen is important, I think. Maybe start off the VN with one such scene? ie. Show that it exists right when player attention is at its height to make sure that they know it's coming up.
Thanks for the input. You bring up a good point of letting the players know that QTEs exist early in the game so that they won't catch the players completely off-guard later on. I'm glad you brought up the suggestion of being upfront. I do have in mind a spot early in my game for an "introduction" QTE that is rather lenient and serves to point out to the player that QTEs will be in the game. Whether or not players will like them still remains to be seen, however.
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Re: Quick Time Events in VIsual Novels

#4 Post by Ghost of Crux » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:48 am

Eirrir wrote:Thanks for the input. You bring up a good point of letting the players know that QTEs exist early in the game so that they won't catch the players completely off-guard. I'm glad you brought up the suggestion of being upfront. I do have in mind a spot early in my game for an "introduction" QTE that is rather lenient and serves to point out to the player that QTEs will be in the game. Whether or not players will like them still remains to be seen, however.
An option to turn off the QTE, maybe? While it would reduce the urgency of the situation, it certainly can be an option to lessen player frustration if they really don't like it.

Personally I would like to see QTE in intense moments, especially since I'm one of those people who get very high-strung and anxious during intense scenes. It might also serve well, actually-- it can be one of the ways you can have a... climax to the tension? Like, usually you only get to relax after certain audio or visual cues. I think it can be one of the ways to lessen the player tension. It's not a tool without its uses-- I like that.
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#5 Post by Scribbles » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:33 am

I personally don't like QTE in VNs, I'm not big on them in any game > < I don't like to be rushed. If I have to make an important choice then I want time to consider it.

You'd also have to take into account different reading speeds.
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#6 Post by TellerFarsight » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:41 am

I actually played the Operation: Future Domination Demo, and I can use that as an example.

I was playing it casually in my room, using the spacebar to advance the text, but then suddenly the one QTE choice popped up and I panicked for a second before having to reach across the table and grab my external mouse (sitting away from me, because I thought it wouldn't be needed) and quickly choose an option. A Visual Novel is in many ways set up for very casual play, just look at the "auto" function for proof of that, so a QTE needs to have warning given. With a VN, I'm ready for absolutely nothing, so a QTE is always going to catch me off guard.
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#7 Post by DannyGMaster » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:00 am

I haven't seen that many visual novels that use QTEs other than Telltale games (maybe Danganronpa, but that classifies as an hybrid action game more than anything), and a Love Hina game for the Game Boy Advance that had you make some choices in literally miliseconds, depending on the pressure of the choice. It wasn't that bad (it was almost always for a comical reason) but sometimes it was frustrating. As long as you warn the player in some way I think it will be fine.
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#8 Post by parttimestorier » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:09 pm

I believe The Letter, a VN that's coming out later this month, uses quicktime events or at least did at some point in their development. You could check out their kickstarter updates to see what they've said about it - they're also nice detailed updates that say a lot of useful and interesting things about the development process in general.
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#9 Post by hoihoisoi » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:28 pm

QTEs are alright if they are integrated well into the story and forms part of the overall VN. Rose Guns Days does it quite well by placing a simple minigame during fight scenes which does go along well with the atmosphere and overall presentation of the game. So, I would say that minigames/QTEs should be implemented if it can be integrated into the story, forcing one in there might make the pacing/flow feel wonky.

But for some people who don't enjoy QTEs, I think it might be a good idea to give them an option to 'skip all minigames/QTE' in the options or at the beginning of the game so that they can just enjoy the story only. :)
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#10 Post by trooper6 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:31 pm

Cause of Death regularly that timed menus, and that game was more popular than most OELVNs. But it also marketed itself to people outside the VN niche community. Surviving Highschool not only have timed menus, but also minigames...and that did really well as well.

So some people will not like it...but maybe those people are not your audience? I'd play such a game if the events were well done and the game itself is of a good quality.
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#11 Post by Sleepy » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:53 pm

Agreeing with, it depends on audience/how it's integrated into the game. I personally don't mind QTE (our project even has some planned) and feel like they can help heighten a situation, with TellTale or even Oxenfree having a nice formula for that. By introducing QTE early, players get a feel for it and it primes them for gameplay situations where they'll have to be quicker. Plus, I find the timer's are generally pretty 'fair', versus some games where they force you to pick a choice in like, 1-2 seconds with little warning, which I tend to find unfair because it's an almost guaranteed game over.

I think the idea of optional QTE is an interesting one, though. It could even just be a matter of differentiating them as 'read mode' versus 'action mode'. However, that also depends on how integrated your QTE are with the core game/narrative. If it's an essential mechanic, it'd just be better to commit than try to appease every audience.
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#12 Post by Eirrir » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:09 am

Thank you everyone for your input! Judging from the responses here, it seems like, for the majority, the execution and the context for QTEs are the most decisive factor. I will be sure to check out the VNs people suggested and do more research on this subject and my target audience (who, I hope, likes thriller elements?). For now, however, I plan to look into making an option early in the game to bypass quick time events because I do want those who dislike QTEs to still be able to enjoy my story; however, those who have it enabled will supposedly have the chance to access certain scenarios. Thanks again for the insightful feedback :)
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#13 Post by trooper6 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:18 am

One bit of contrasting opinion. I don't like games that let you either turn or off the QTEs. If the QTEs are able to be turned off, that means they aren't crucial to the story...so I'd rather not have them at all. I want the QTEs to be part of the artistic vision of the game, and if they are part of the artistic vision of the game, I don't want them able to be turned off. I'd be okay with a slow mode where they are very slow for people who need things to happen very slowly--but I never like the feeling of things being tacked on or padded out. I would like the QTEs to be deliberate and part of the artistic vision, and therefore not skippable. But that is just my preference...and I am not the average VN audience here.
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#14 Post by Eirrir » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:45 am

trooper6 wrote:One bit of contrasting opinion. I don't like games that let you either turn or off the QTEs. If the QTEs are able to be turned off, that means they aren't crucial to the story...so I'd rather not have them at all. I want the QTEs to be part of the artistic vision of the game, and if they are part of the artistic vision of the game, I don't want them able to be turned off. I'd be okay with a slow mode where they are very slow for people who need things to happen very slowly--but I never like the feeling of things being tacked on or padded out. I would like the QTEs to be deliberate and part of the artistic vision, and therefore not skippable. But that is just my preference...and I am not the average VN audience here.
I think it's a good point to bring up and to consider. I do understand the sentiment against arbitrary features that feel like they're being tacked on just for the sake of it. But what I imagine using the QTEs for is integral to not necessarily the storyline of my VN but definitely to the experience. I will mainly use these as a tension and immersion builder. However, only the future can tell whether this pans out the way I imagine it. Also, I do want to take into consideration that I don't want people to feel jaded against my game simply because it has QTEs or the lack thereof, so the best case scenario may be to let the players play the way they want and let the story speak for itself, good or bad. I am still open to more thoughts on this topic, though, if there are any!
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Re: Quick Time Events in Visual Novels

#15 Post by papillon » Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:39 am

I wouldn't entirely count all timed menus as quick time events, but I have enjoyed some games that allow for 'choosing nothing' at a menu point for a long period of time to count as 'the character doesn't say anything' and the game reacts to that. Especially when the amount of time given for a response is reasonable. This allows for a stronger connection between what is happening in the game and what the player is actually DOING. You were sitting there unable to choose what you wanted to say, so the character didn't talk.

If, however, the protagonist is a super-ninja and I'm reading the story of this super-ninja and suddenly the game asks me to hit a key in order to duck, and I don't manage to because I was reading the story, and so the ninja gets hit in the face and dies... this isn't increasing my immersion, this doesn't make me feel like I am a ninja, this is just annoying. It works a lot better if you're playing a console game where you were already physically in control of the ninja and thus your twitchy reactions (or lack thereof) are already connected to that ninja's progress.

I don't want a computer-based VN where I'm mostly sitting in autoplay reading a story to suddenly throw a 'PRESS W OR DIE' at me. It's jarring and not fun. But a game that is very frequently "PRESS A RANDOM KEY OR DIE" can be entertaining (look, I'm old enough to remember Dragon's Lair coming out, okay?) At that point it's an intrinsic gameplay element.

If I wanted to work occasional QTEs into a VN... I'd probably try to use the UI to signpost that the game was entering an ACTION SEQUENCE. Stuff like suddenly letterboxing the display, flashing a "BE ALERT!" warning. Get them tense, get them knowing that a QTE is going to happen soon, even though they don't know exactly when. Then the sudden challenge won't be unfair, it will be anticipated. Anticipation is part of what makes this kind of thing fun! Give them a couple different timed prompts during the ACTION SEQUENCE, then stand down from high alert, let the UI return to normal.

To make this feel like an integrated gameplay element spicing things up, they need to happen several times during the game. If you have an intro at the very beginning and then never bring it up again until the climax at the end of the route, it will still be jarring and un-fun, and treated as just some weird random thing rather than a true gameplay element.

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