Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

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talesoutoftown
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Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#1 Post by talesoutoftown » Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:27 pm

I had this discussion once about whether VA-11 was a VN. The other person was adamant that it was not a VN because choices weren't made using the normal VN choice A,B,C,... menu. Long Live the Queen I'd say is also a VN.

For those that don't know, VA-11 is highly dialogue based, like VNs, but the player can take action in the story by making drinks correctly or incorrectly. There would be a good 5-10 minutes of textboxes, then a drink to make. Rinse and repeat.

That much talking in a game felt like a VN to me. If the drink making mechanic was difficult, then I'd be more inclined to say it was NOT a VN, but time literally stops and you can even look up the recipe while you're making the drink, that it's almost as easy as just clicking "Make Drink Correctly" vs "Make Drink Incorrectly".

The mechanic just fits the setting and allows for more nuanced choice making than the plain old stack of choice buttons. Like, if you remember this one character hates this one drink, you can actively choose to make the drink. The player had to use their previous experience in the game to make a conscious effort to seek hidden routes. That's fun! It wasn't just "if unlocked previous flag, show new button to choose hidden route".

There's also Long Live the Queen. The player spends most of their time clicking through textboxes. There's even the traditional choice buttons. On top of that is a stat building section that determines choices.

I'm thinking of incorporating an alternative choice making mechanic to a future project and I'm prototyping it at the moment. Would it be a turn off playing through a dialogue heavy game, and for the choices, having to do more clicking than just a bunch of text buttons?

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Re: Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#2 Post by Imperf3kt » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:32 pm

In my opinion, on the contrary!

After reading a lot of dialogue, the last thing I want to do is pick A, B or C. Instead, I want to interact with the game (otherwise I may as well watch a movie or read a book)
Having that interaction in a non standard way shouldn't exclude a game from an entire genre, in my opinion.

Take, for example, Danganronpa. Decidedly a visual novel, but there is no choice menu at all.
Or Ken Follets Pillars of The Earth, an interactive fiction, yet almost identical to a typical 'visual novel'

The lines are blurry, not high contrast. There's no fun in yes/no options. The fun comes from the uncertainty aspect and adding player skill into that isn't a bad thing.
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Re: Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#3 Post by talesoutoftown » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:53 pm

That's really encouraging! I completely forgot about Danganronpa, but I totally get what you mean. I think that means Ace Attorney would count too.

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Re: Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#4 Post by parttimestorier » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:39 am

Yes, Ace Attorney is generally counted as a VN as far as I know. Both it and Danganronpa are kind of borderline cases because they have so much gameplay, but they're still really focused on story and dialogue and the same people who like other VNs tend to play and enjoy them. I would also personally count Long Live the Queen as a VN, although some people might say it's more of a raising sim. I really loved that events played out differently in LLTQ based on the decisions you had made earlier about which skills to train, and that there were often multiple ways things could go that were a lot more complex than just "you need this skill to pass." Another popular VN that had more interactive choices than just a menu is Steins;Gate, and I've heard a lot of people say VA-11 is one of their favourite VNs. So I think a lot of people would definitely like whatever alternative choice mechanic you have in mind!
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Re: Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#5 Post by trooper6 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:01 pm

What I'm not about is genre gatekeeping. "This isn't a VN!" "That isn't a VN!"
Eh. Make a good game.
If it is good? I'll play it!
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Re: Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#6 Post by talesoutoftown » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:31 pm

This community is so awesome 😍

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Re: Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#7 Post by Imperf3kt » Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:51 am

talesoutoftown wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:53 pm
I think that means Ace Attorney would count too.
I don't see why not.
Ace Attorney[a] is a series of visual novel adventure video games developed by Capcom.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ace_Attorney
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Re: Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#8 Post by talesoutoftown » Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:39 pm

I also believe Ace Attorney is a VN. It asks you to think about the story and use the story to solve problems in the game. Where I think it might stray too far from being a VN is when mechanical skill is a heavy requirement to access part of the story.

If a player needs to develop mechanical skills to meaningfully affect the story, I think maybe it's sliding closer to another genre. As it is now, Papers, Please, would be hard to call a VN. But if you increase the amount of dialogue and reduce the amount of filler applicants, I feel it would be easier to call it a VN.

Have any of you seen any FPSVNs or RTSVNs?? Is that taking it too far? :b

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Re: Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#9 Post by Imperf3kt » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:53 pm

talesoutoftown wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:39 pm
Have any of you seen any FPSVNs or RTSVNs?? Is that taking it too far? :b
Yes I fact, both were made with Ren'Py.
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Re: Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#10 Post by talesoutoftown » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:24 am

Wow, I'd love to play those :0 would you happen to remember their names? It'd be rather useful for other readers to get some exposure to that kind of thing :D

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Re: Thoughts on Alternative Choice Mechanics?

#11 Post by Imperf3kt » Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:04 am

No sorry.
One was an experiment, the other was a commercial game that I don't remember either, all I remember was the gameplay and that they were made with Ren'Py
Warning: May contain trace amounts of gratuitous plot.
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