A place to discuss things that aren't specific to any one creator or game.
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Generally speaking, what things do you like to unlock in a visual novel? This can contribute to replay value, add toys to extend the gameplay, and give players a sense of achievement as they progress in the story. A few of the unlockables I've seen are as follows:
- New Route - You can't play through this route until you complete another one prior
- More Choices - You can now say or do more things, with a character or in the overall game
- CG Gallery - View a collection of special pictures that appear throughout the story
- Jukebox - Listen to background music
- Voice Test - Listen to characters' voices, if there is voice acting
- SFX Player - Hear all of the sound effects
- Character Profile - See more information about a character, most likely a bio
- Minigame - Play smaller games inside the visual novel
- Scene Selection - Skip to specific scenes, so you can quickly read the ones you really enjoyed again
My opinion: I enjoy CG galleries and jukeboxes quite a bit. The new route thing is hit or miss with me, but mostly if it means I cannot play through the route I want unless I go through one that I don't necessarily want to.
What unlockables do you like to include in your game? Which ones do you want to see more of?
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I think an unlockable CG gallery is pretty standard. In a VN with multiple routes, it can be a great way to find an estimate of how much you have left and whether you're missing anything, and it's also nice to just look at the pretty art again. I also tend to really like VNs with an enforced route order, because you can have a deeper and more complex plot that way. And I've only seen a few developers do this, but I think it's really cool to have an unlockable author's notes section as well, where they give some commentary about the creative process.
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My protagonist has the power to read Fate and view the past, present, and possible futures. That was too fun not to turn into a gameplay mechanic, and I'll be implementing unlockable scenarios of events she wasn't present to witness. I get to have my cake and eat it too by including important scenes that I couldn't justify having in the main route because they either didn't fit the pacing of the story, or they would give too much away for the unplayed routes, or simply because she wouldn't have been there when they happened. I'm hoping the collision of revelations learned in different paths being used to expand upon the characters and bring further insight into the story will be interesting for the player and rewarding to pursue. I'm also thinking of using them to expand the endings, not with full scenarios, but with snippets of dialogue set against no background. Little moments with no context that won't add up to describe a full picture of what their lives are like, just teases. That's the sort of thing I'd go back and keep playing a game for.
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You missed Gacha.
Technically, a form of gambling. You earn coins or similar by doing things like winning minigames or scoring high, or picking the 'right' choice, etc, and use them to roll a random generator which rewards you with a random item, the use of which depends on your game.
It could be an item a player can use, or it could be a simple music unlock or even something like a concept art unlock. Depends on your game, really.
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I think one of the most memorable galleries from recent games I've played is the gallery in the letter. You can unlock backgrounds, CGs, "epilogue" art that pertains to the lore & history in the game, and "item sprites" which I really loved!! they were so much fun.
Including this image for inspiration and to show you guys what I mean!
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More content like what the OP suggested is indeed nice, but make sure not to make it too much or for it to be there for the sake of more content.
Good the way it is:
New Route - You can't play through this route until you complete another one prior. Assuming there's a plot reason for it, this is always nice.
CG Gallery - View a collection of special pictures that appear throughout the story. Also very useful for determining if you've seen all the endings yet.
Character Profile - See more information about a character, most likely a bio. Easy to add, always nice to read through after reading the VN or coming back to it.
Scene Selection - Skip to specific scenes, so you can quickly read the ones you really enjoyed again. Useful, though Ren'py's Ctrl skip can do the same with short and medium-length stories.
Meh or neutral:
Jukebox - Listen to background music.
SFX Player - Hear all of the sound effects. The both of these I usually don't care for in a VN. I can listen to the music by not reading further in the VN just as well.
Be careful with or do differently:
More Choices - You can now say or do more things, with a character or in the overall game. The greatest deal of immersion will be in the first playthrough. In the second one, skipping through parts to see one or two new sentences in a scene that you remember but are no longer immersed in is just meh. Make sure that it's whole scenes that are added to the story to make sure the reader can re-emerge themselves properly.
Voice Test - Listen to characters' voices, if there is voice acting. Blooper reel. That's always fun, the one in Seduce Me was the best part of the game.
Minigame - Play smaller games inside the visual novel. Be very careful not to add minigames for the sake of adding them. If it feels tacked on or otherwise unfitting, immersion breaking or not fun, most people won't like it at all. There was a thread around here some time ago with that conclusion well-established.
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