Playing with reader expectation

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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#16 Post by Dakishimete » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:12 am

Greeny wrote:If you wanna see a good example of how to kill off someone, look at some moments in the Mass Effect series.
Please, don't. At least not the third game.

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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#17 Post by GratuitousMoonspeak » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:38 pm

I like the positive responses to this topic, but I'm a bit conflicted over what has gone down with Mass Effect 3's ending. On the one hand, I find it kind of hilarious that it was able to get such a rise out of people (mainly because I'm not a Mass Effect fan; after playing Dragon Age and then KOTOR it seems to me that all Bioware games are just "our basic premise in (insert setting here)!"), but on the other hand I feel that it was both a dick move on the part of Bioware and a really bad example of pulling the kind of thing I'm talking about.

I mean, there are really good examples of authors trolling readers, such as many of the deaths that happen in A Song of Ice and Fire. Then again, they are there for a reason, and aren't used just for shock factor (though with a few of them, it certainly feels like it :-T). They move the plot along, or serve as a message to readers that, "Hey, reader. Anyone can die. Get used to it." Honestly, sometimes I wish other writers were as ballsy as Martin is on a bad day (myself included lol).

But I think how I really feel about all this is that I actually love endings where some good happens but people end up suffering anyway :-3 I think this is why I dislike romance games in general: nobody except the reader suffers much (in my case), the characters just have some unnecessary drama and then there's a happy ending (unless you get the bad ending :-T). Or sometimes they don't have unnecessary drama and just complain to the main character for awhile, and suddenly there is love.

Oh man. Is it too obvious that I hate otome games? :oops:
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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#18 Post by papillon » Mon Mar 26, 2012 12:53 pm

Is it too obvious that I hate otome games?
Play more games by different authors. :) Even in the Japanese-written games there are plenty where the endings aren't all roses! I was reading reviews of a japanese otome game recently where in every single path, even the final unlockable one, the heroes lose. The 'good' endings for the obtainable guys only mean that somehow that one guy survives the disaster and returns to be with the heroine, but the rest of their friends are dead/missing in the conflict.

Not to mention a number of games where the obtainable guys are on different sides of a conflict and no matter which side you pick, somebody's going to die.

Anyway, there are plenty of darker, more serious titles in romantic visual novels. It's not all fluff.

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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#19 Post by GratuitousMoonspeak » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:54 pm

papillon wrote:
Is it too obvious that I hate otome games?
Play more games by different authors. :) Even in the Japanese-written games there are plenty where the endings aren't all roses! I was reading reviews of a japanese otome game recently where in every single path, even the final unlockable one, the heroes lose. The 'good' endings for the obtainable guys only mean that somehow that one guy survives the disaster and returns to be with the heroine, but the rest of their friends are dead/missing in the conflict.

Not to mention a number of games where the obtainable guys are on different sides of a conflict and no matter which side you pick, somebody's going to die.

Anyway, there are plenty of darker, more serious titles in romantic visual novels. It's not all fluff.
Meh, I really have a problem with how games are written, in that something that is far too long-winded or that has scenes that go absolutely nowhere tends to bore me more than stuff that doesn't do those things. I guess a good comparison here would be (to use RPG examples) Eternal Sonata v. Baten Kaitos Origins: both are fantasy games, both are bright and colorful, both have wonderful music and pretty backgrounds, but only one doesn't make me want to rip my hair out from all the bad dialogue, bland characters and terrible plot. Even games that have a dark twist can be written badly, despite the "mature" content.

I guess I can't expect every single game out there to be great--or even decent--reading, though :-T

But back to the main point: I don't think that death is necessarily the only way to troll audiences (though certainly it hits harder than, say, just having everything go wrong for a character). There's also denying characters truly happy endings (a star-crossed lovers kind of thing) or having them fail at what they set out to do.

(As a side note, what are the titles of the games you were talking about? They sound like they're right up my alley.)
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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#20 Post by papillon » Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:06 pm

Heh, I can't read Japanese so I just read about these things off review blogs and don't always remember all the names accurately! IIRC the 'you lose no matter what' game was a spinoff from the Angelique series. Probably http://vndb.org/v8799

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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#21 Post by Twisted-Eva » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:49 pm

GratuitousMoonspeak wrote: Ooh, I guess a good question now is how would people feel about a cast of jerks? I've actually tried that, too: the MC meets five guys, four of whom are utterly terrible people from the get-go and only one of whom is actually likeable. I guess that's also kind of manipulating reader emotions, but with how many people who ignore the actions of Voldemort and Sephiroth, I guess maybe it wouldn't matter anyway? People seem to just rewrite things in their minds to better fit with their expectations... for some reason.
If the whole cast of bishies were jerks, that just sounds like an R+/masochistic game I wouldn't play XD. An example I ran into while playing Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom was Okita. Okita was probably as jerky as he can get in terms of his murderous humor, such as "If you get in my way, I'm gonna kill you" or death threats/comments. In reality, I'd probably just keep my guard up, but after repeating such a joke 20x I just feel like "That's cool bro... whatever..." because the other obtainable guys reacted that way to Okita. But then his
illness kicks in
, so I just cut him some slack. And his bad route was tear-jerking for me... you know, just saying... :(
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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#22 Post by lepapillonrouge » Tue May 01, 2012 2:50 am

Man, I was having similar ideas like you too ;w;

I understand where you're coming from with how otome games are written though. But what games have you played? If you're like me, you've played the freeware ones and a few commercial ones, and the freeware tend to be written by middle/high school girls-ish age. And the audience for such games tend to also be middle/high school girls. If you've grown up believing in the idea of romance, you're not going to subvert the idea unless you've watched/read/experienced something that screwed your idea of love. And when you play an otome game, you expect to have good times with some boys, to choose one in the end and live happily ever after. When you screw with that idea...well, think of the reaction to episode 3 of Madoka.

The horrible thing is, though, many girls will be utterly pissed off that they can get their mans. And will be turned off to the game. |D Especially if there's no indication to that twist. Like with Madoka people were searching for the subversion because they heard of who was writing the script, so it worked out. For Evangelion and its wacked out ending however, there was ton of hate mail (but then again it's still generating money so whatever)

However if you'd like a personal opinion, I'd love to be trolled man. Well, as long as I have hints that I will be trolled, and that being trolled is one of its selling points. It doesn't have to be explicit, but perhaps if we had interesting screenshots then it'd be great!

Also: I was thinking of non-romantic paths of a way of being trolled/not-trolled at the same time. For example, one of the people whose paths you follow in one of my upcoming VNs is the MC's first cousin. Now I've heard it's legal to get married to your first cousin in Japan (and California apparently o-o;) but I think for a lot of people in the English-speaking world it's a bit squicky, so I've been thinking of making that a non-romantic path. Sure they'll be getting closer and having time together alone, but it's more of a family bonding time with someone the MC is comfortable with (and at the same time revealing good plot times). I guess it's not really trolling because it's not super mean, but at the same time if that guy has fans (not that I'm sure he will at first) they might get angry that it's not romantic...haha. Well hopefully by the time it comes out this thread has disappeared from the sea of obscurity hoohaha
(for the record though, it isn't just because he's her first cousin that this is non-romantic...)

I'd like also think a way of subverting is making romance not the main priority (even though it may seem like it). In another of my ideas, I was thinking that maybe the MC of that story will try to pursue her career over the love interest and not make it a bad end.

Actually I just think that pulling otome games out of the 'romance this guy and you'll have a happy love time forever' is a subversion to the genre. It's just the way it's portrayed is depressing...like papillon said, there's definitely more games to look for that should be more popular than the otome games we see here. :Dc

Sorry I wrote too much. I think I repeated a lot of what people said, but to be honest, as I've said, I've been having similar concerns, although I do enjoy otome games as they are (to an extent).
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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#23 Post by Twisted-Eva » Tue May 01, 2012 3:27 am

lepapillonrouge wrote:And when you play an otome game, you expect to have good times with some boys, to choose one in the end and live happily ever after. When you screw with that idea...well, think of the reaction to episode 3 of Madoka.

...

I'd like also think a way of subverting is making romance not the main priority (even though it may seem like it). In another of my ideas, I was thinking that maybe the MC of that story will try to pursue her career over the love interest and not make it a bad end.
Ooh, ooh, my current project has that main theme of duty/loyalty vs. love and no, there are not all good times to be had (especially for bad endings) XD. Before I de-rail this thread, I would like to say that it's good to toy with expectations, but not throw the viewers a 360 against whatever choices they made to avoid it. Or you know, subtly imply that the viewer is going down the wrong path and maybe the viewer won't realize it before it's too late?
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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#24 Post by GratuitousMoonspeak » Tue May 01, 2012 11:58 pm

Okay I have to admit it, I'm really not a romantic kind of person. I do enjoy some love stories, but I just can't get behind the whole sappy "I can't live without you, pretty bad boy I met just last week!" kind of thing. It just doesn't make sense to me.

(I can, however, understand the MC falling in love with a sweet, adorable, mildly dorky guy :-3)

I don't know, though. I don't think I'm really cut out for writing VNs, actually! I don't like the archetypes and cliches, and I actually really dislike the idea that a person is your reward for reading through the thing. It just... bothers me.

Also yes I've only played freeware games and Saya no Uta. Which are, of course, on completely different levels, but they both show what the genre can be--either incredibly soulless and bland or soulful yet unsettling. Not that people who write freeware VNs don't write with passion or feeling. It just doesn't come across in their writing, if they write with all they have. Which is unfortunate, because a lot of the ideas I see on here could make great VNs if the writer was more experienced.

But anyway that's just how I feel. :-T
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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#25 Post by icebluehost » Wed May 02, 2012 12:44 am

Dakishimete wrote:
Greeny wrote:If you wanna see a good example of how to kill off someone, look at some moments in the Mass Effect series.
Please, don't. At least not the third game.
Personally I have nothing against the ending of the third game. But what I really hated about it, and most likely the reason EVERYONE hates it, is because you were promised something and ended up getting something else. Bioware claimed that there would be different endings based on the decisions you made. It was in an article I read. They clearly stated that there would be different endings. (prided themselves in it even)
But the ending forces you into three 'main' endings, all of which are more or less the same only with different colors and different characters who end up on the Normandy when it crashes into the 'unknown' planet, depending on your love interest or whoever you took with you to the last mission.
That is what I'd call trolling. When you promise your audience something then deny them that something or give them something that's the opposite of what you actually promised. Otherwise, it's not really trolling. Personally, I like being 'trolled' (although I don't think this is the correct term for what we're talking about) in stories or games. I find that being trolled is okay as long as it's justified and it actually makes sense in the long run.

Making lovable characters (or ones you hate), making readers sympathize or loathe or worship them, having these characters feel like they're actually real and not just some random fictional person in a piece of paper (or digital story), then killing them off in a reasonable, grand and good way and then hearing people get angry or happy or sad, is every writer's goal. To have readers actually be affected by what happens in the story; what happens to your characters (whether what happened is a good thing or a bad thing) is, to me, what every writer should strive to accomplish.

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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#26 Post by Argeus_the_Paladin » Wed May 02, 2012 1:44 am

papillon wrote:
Is it too obvious that I hate otome games?
Play more games by different authors. :) Even in the Japanese-written games there are plenty where the endings aren't all roses! I was reading reviews of a japanese otome game recently where in every single path, even the final unlockable one, the heroes lose. The 'good' endings for the obtainable guys only mean that somehow that one guy survives the disaster and returns to be with the heroine, but the rest of their friends are dead/missing in the conflict.

Not to mention a number of games where the obtainable guys are on different sides of a conflict and no matter which side you pick, somebody's going to die.

Anyway, there are plenty of darker, more serious titles in romantic visual novels. It's not all fluff.
Speak for yourself, mate. *Has played Fatal Hearts* 8)

Last time I checked, utsuge (lit. Depressing games) is a thing, and quite a popular segment of the market at that.
Though to be absolutely honest it still ain't my thing - whenever I read a depresing visual novel, I have this strange urge to insert a Roman legion, a Genoese crossbow company or a Prussian regiment of foot into the plot and see how it turns out.
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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#27 Post by Cain » Wed May 02, 2012 7:25 am

GratuitousMoonspeak wrote: I don't know, though. I don't think I'm really cut out for writing VNs, actually! I don't like the archetypes and cliches, and I actually really dislike the idea that a person is your reward for reading through the thing. It just... bothers me.
If you don't like the archetypes and clichés, then –by all means– don't use them! :)

I fully grasp what you're saying and I agree it seems silly that love can be rewarded just by going through life.
Don't we all know better? The more challenging a relationship is, the more rewarding it can get!
By making tough choices, sticking with your guts and taking what you want,
you deliver the right kind of effort to 'deserve' that one, special reward.

Clichés are rules; 'n you know what they say about rules and what they're meant for... ;)

Here's a tip; consider scenario A:

Code: Select all

Bob likes Ann.
Bob goes through his life.
At the end, Ann suddenly notices him and has sex with him.
Ann dies a day later.
Bob = sad.
End.
That's called trolling your audience and what I think you were getting at. Now consider scenario B:

Code: Select all

Bob doesn't like Ann (because they're both serial killers).
One night, Ann tries to kill Bob – she fails.
They join hands and decide to go out killing together.
They fight the cops but one day, Ann gets shot and dies.
Bob sits by the river and reflects upon his life... smiling.
End.
It's still a cliché, but it hits differently; notice the complexity that gets added with the ethics of killing?

All pizzas are the same – until you add the spices.
That, my friend, is now up to you; good luck! ;)

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Re: Playing with reader expectation

#28 Post by GratuitousMoonspeak » Wed May 02, 2012 8:51 am

Cain wrote: If you don't like the archetypes and clichés, then –by all means– don't use them! :)
I often try to avoid cliches anyway :-3

What I mean is that I really do not like the cliches as a base. In fantasy, for example, people often like using mystical, bizarre people as characters--maybe not main characters, but still. I'll use a character of mine as an example and my thought process behind her conception:

1. Audiences seem to love spacey people (for whatever reason; this spacey person can tell you that it's not really that much fun)
2. Spacey people can get away with a lot in fiction! Nobody ever dislikes them because they're naive and a bit simple-minded
3. IRL if you make dumb comments and act weird all the time, people are going to think you're crazy, dumb, annoying, or unapproachable
4. Make everyone dislike this girl except her love interest, who likes her because he's also kind of weird
5. ???
6. Profit

Whereas it's harder for me to take, say, the bad boy archetype and make it into something an audience wasn't expecting. I guess you could do the old "dangerous man who secretly loves kittens and ponies" kind of thing, but that's been done to death. I know someone said they'd like to see a jerk who stays a jerk, and I think that that, unfortunately, is far more subversive than making him a sweet guy underneath the jerkiness. And I feel that if I didn't use this archetype, it would be difficult to a) have conflict and b) eventually troll the audience. I know I don't have to use the cliches, but it helps with setting up your audience for eventual disappointment, IMO.
Though I suppose in a fantasy setting, being in love with a jerk might put you on the wrong side of a conflict (in that the MC dies, not whether it's right or wrong to be there)...
Though you know, all this talk of cliches and archetypes gives me an idea for a parody game. Which... will probably turn out semi-serious despite my best efforts...

:-/
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