Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

Discuss visual novels and story-based games that didn't originate on this forum.
Message
Author
User avatar
Taleweaver
Writing Maniac
Posts: 3428
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:51 am
Completed: Metropolitan Blues, The Loyal Kinsman, Daemonophilia, The Dreaming, The Thirteenth Year, Adrift, Bionic Heart 2, Secrets of the Wolf, The Photographer
Projects: The Pilgrim's Path, Elspeth's Garden, Secret Adventure Game!
Organization: Tall Tales Productions
Location: Germany
Contact:

Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#1 Post by Taleweaver » Fri May 27, 2011 10:15 am

Title almost says it all: Heavy Rain calls itself "interactive drama" while it's essentially a choose-your-own-adventure story just like most VNs. The main differences are many interactive elements (e.g. quick-time events), but similar minigames are implemented in some "true" VNs already. One could classify "Heavy Rain" as an adventure, but its lack of puzzle elements and relative linearity set it apart from other first-person adventure titles like "Myst". At the same time, most VN titles are "interactive dramas" already if you understand the "drama" as a literary form and consider the conversation-heavy VNs most of us know and love as a sort of theatrical presentation with actors on a stage.

What do you think? Are games like "Heavy Rain" the logical follower of VNs and "interactive dramas" the next step in the evolution of the genre, are they step-children of the adventure genre, or are they something entirely new not comparable to the other two?
Scriptwriter and producer of Metropolitan Blues
Creator of The Loyal Kinsman
Scriptwriter and director of Daemonophilia
Scriptwriter and director of The Dreaming
Scriptwriter of Zenith Chronicles
Scriptwriter and director of The Thirteenth Year
Scriptwriter and director of Romance is Dead
Scriptwriter and producer of Adrift
More about me in my blog
"Adrift - Like Ever17, but without the Deus Ex Machina" - HigurashiKira

User avatar
jack_norton
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 4035
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 5:41 pm
Completed: Too many! See my homepage
Projects: A lot! See www.winterwolves.com
Tumblr: winterwolvesgames
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#2 Post by jack_norton » Fri May 27, 2011 10:31 am

I haven't played it, even if was almost tempted to get a PS3 just for that game. However all I want to say is that sometimes people take a successful game which has some gameplay element in common with VN and they start talking like "see, VN are mainstream!" or "VN will be the next big thing in casual games" or other IMHO impossible theories. Not saying that you're doing this, just in general.
I have played the previous game made by that team, Indigo Prophecy/Farenheit, and beside some "action-scenes" the game had lots of things in common with VNs, but in practice you can say anything with a story and choice has something in common with VN.

So I'm also wondering: what about the first text adventures? they have a plot, lot of text, choices, and in some cases different outcomes. What differentiate them from modern VNs ?

About my opinion: I think there would be a HUGE market for... interactive drama, as they call it. Everything voiced, and 3d actors. It's like watching TV series where you can decide the outcome. This eliminates what most people hate more about VNs: reading. Problem is, making such games is insanely expensive :D
follow me on Image Image Image Image
computer games

User avatar
Taleweaver
Writing Maniac
Posts: 3428
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:51 am
Completed: Metropolitan Blues, The Loyal Kinsman, Daemonophilia, The Dreaming, The Thirteenth Year, Adrift, Bionic Heart 2, Secrets of the Wolf, The Photographer
Projects: The Pilgrim's Path, Elspeth's Garden, Secret Adventure Game!
Organization: Tall Tales Productions
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#3 Post by Taleweaver » Fri May 27, 2011 10:42 am

jack_norton wrote:So I'm also wondering: what about the first text adventures? they have a plot, lot of text, choices, and in some cases different outcomes. What differentiate them from modern VNs ?
Two things:
a) the "visual" component; the very first text adventures didn't have any.
b) this genre is nowadays called "interactive fiction". I think IFs differentiate from VNs nicely as they usually feature an open environment you can roam and one "decision" each turn instead of a linear path with a limited set of key decisions to make.
About my opinion: I think there would be a HUGE market for... interactive drama, as they call it. Everything voiced, and 3d actors. It's like watching TV series where you can decide the outcome. This eliminates what most people hate more about VNs: reading. Problem is, making such games is insanely expensive :D
Full voice acting is possible, maybe even feasible for the sort of VN games we're making, and that would eliminate reading just as well. By the way, "Heavy Rain" is not only fully voiced, but also fully subtitled, and you make choices by selecting specific keywords circling around your character's head (his or her "thoughts"). So even interactive dramas aren't completely without elements where you have to read...
Scriptwriter and producer of Metropolitan Blues
Creator of The Loyal Kinsman
Scriptwriter and director of Daemonophilia
Scriptwriter and director of The Dreaming
Scriptwriter of Zenith Chronicles
Scriptwriter and director of The Thirteenth Year
Scriptwriter and director of Romance is Dead
Scriptwriter and producer of Adrift
More about me in my blog
"Adrift - Like Ever17, but without the Deus Ex Machina" - HigurashiKira

User avatar
Dunceney
Regular
Posts: 34
Joined: Thu May 19, 2011 9:52 pm
Completed: Untold Myth 1st Tale
Projects: Untold Myth 2nd Tale
Location: Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#4 Post by Dunceney » Fri May 27, 2011 11:11 am

While it has several same elements as VN, I think interactive drama can't be called as VN, there might be a new genre spawned based on interactive drama tho.
I have played the previous game made by that team, Indigo Prophecy/Farenheit, and beside some "action-scenes" the game had lots of things in common with VNs, but in practice you can say anything with a story and choice has something in common with VN.
This reminds me about something, nowadays we have lot of games adapting VN elements (games like Luminous Arc came to my mind) yet we didn't call them VN, and a lot of VNs now has actual gameplay like other genres (RPG, action, etc) and we still call them VN even if the game focused more on gameplay rather than story. This is kinda confusing =A='a
So I'm also wondering: what about the first text adventures? they have a plot, lot of text, choices, and in some cases different outcomes. What differentiate them from modern VNs ?
If what I'm thinking matched with what you mean in your sentence, the early text adventures didn't have any visual elements like VNs, or at least they had only minimum visual elements (My memory kinda hazy, but that's where CG term came from right? since they only had picture displayed at special events)
About my opinion: I think there would be a HUGE market for... interactive drama, as they call it. Everything voiced, and 3d actors. It's like watching TV series where you can decide the outcome. This eliminates what most people hate more about VNs: reading. Problem is, making such games is insanely expensive
I kinda half-agree, half-disagree about this =w=
Some of my friends whom unfamiliar with VN said "What? That's a game? Its just a wall of text with some images."
And most people that I know who likes VN said that the beauty of VN lies within the words, how they beautifully describe the events that happened or what was depicted on your screen.
Reading is one of VN weakness, yet at the same time it's a strength that support VN itself.

User avatar
jack_norton
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 4035
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 5:41 pm
Completed: Too many! See my homepage
Projects: A lot! See www.winterwolves.com
Tumblr: winterwolvesgames
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#5 Post by jack_norton » Fri May 27, 2011 12:16 pm

Heh, I really must play that game one day.
It does have "real-time" decisions? In Alpha Protocol, while is a RPG/FPS, it has a BIG plot/dialogue part. We can call it "a VN part" since you can get very different outcomes based on your decisions/replies (and also several romances... hehe). But a feature of that game is that you need to pick an answer in a short period of time. Does Heavy Rain works this way?
I know many people probably don't like this, but I thought several times about doing a similar thing in my games. After all, even in real-life we don't have unlimited time to answer to a person question when we talk, no ? :D
follow me on Image Image Image Image
computer games

User avatar
Taleweaver
Writing Maniac
Posts: 3428
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:51 am
Completed: Metropolitan Blues, The Loyal Kinsman, Daemonophilia, The Dreaming, The Thirteenth Year, Adrift, Bionic Heart 2, Secrets of the Wolf, The Photographer
Projects: The Pilgrim's Path, Elspeth's Garden, Secret Adventure Game!
Organization: Tall Tales Productions
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#6 Post by Taleweaver » Fri May 27, 2011 1:35 pm

jack_norton wrote:But a feature of that game is that you need to pick an answer in a short period of time. Does Heavy Rain works this way?
In quite a few places, it does. If you don't choose any answer, your conversation partner thinks you're deliberately say nothing and, well, silence sometimes speaks more than a thousand words...
I know many people probably don't like this, but I thought several times about doing a similar thing in my games. After all, even in real-life we don't have unlimited time to answer to a person question when we talk, no ? :D
It depends on the type of game you're making. Did you ever play The King of Chicago? Wiki describes it as "action adventure strategy", but it really was a VN with tons of minigames, and every VN sequence was timed. Either you chose an answer quickly, or an answer was chosen for you randomly. It worked because Cinemaware were trying to create the impression of a movie you could take part in.

I've been thinking about an idea for quite some time now... write a multi-pathed audio drama, have it voice-acted out and then create a VN with that as its base. It shouldn't be too hard to do in Ren'Py and create a rather cool experience.
Last edited by Taleweaver on Fri May 27, 2011 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Scriptwriter and producer of Metropolitan Blues
Creator of The Loyal Kinsman
Scriptwriter and director of Daemonophilia
Scriptwriter and director of The Dreaming
Scriptwriter of Zenith Chronicles
Scriptwriter and director of The Thirteenth Year
Scriptwriter and director of Romance is Dead
Scriptwriter and producer of Adrift
More about me in my blog
"Adrift - Like Ever17, but without the Deus Ex Machina" - HigurashiKira

User avatar
jack_norton
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 4035
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 5:41 pm
Completed: Too many! See my homepage
Projects: A lot! See www.winterwolves.com
Tumblr: winterwolvesgames
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#7 Post by jack_norton » Fri May 27, 2011 2:27 pm

Taleweaver wrote:
jack_norton wrote:But a feature of that game is that you need to pick an answer in a short period of time. Does Heavy Rain works this way?
In quite a few places, it does. If you don't choose any answer, your conversation partner thinks you're deliberately say nothing and, well, silence sometimes speaks more than a thousand words...
Yes and that's cool. I mean of course you could just have no-real time and have an option "..." or better "say nothing"... but if the whole game is in some sort of "real-time" or "semi-realtime" it would have even a bigger impact I think.
Taleweaver wrote: I've been thinking about an idea for quite some time now... write a multi-pathed audio drama, have it voice-acted out and then create a VN with that as its base. It shouldn't be too hard to do in Ren'Py and create a rather cool experience.
Yes definitely. I wanted to do Bionic Heart this way, but then in the end thought that people could be pissed because they didn't had time to think which reply they like the best. If I do it , I'll probably have two playing mode, "old style" and the new in "real-time" 8)
follow me on Image Image Image Image
computer games

User avatar
SilverHyena
Veteran
Posts: 223
Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 2:46 pm
Completed: Sacred Sand (BxB), Mira's Magical Mishap (GxG), Ben and the Devil, Cute Demon Crashers (GxB/G) (18+), Heirs and Graces (BxB), My Magical Divorce Bureau (AllxAll), Essence Hunt (BxB)
Deviantart: http://silverhyena.d
itch: https://silverhyena.
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#8 Post by SilverHyena » Fri May 27, 2011 6:59 pm

Man, I love Heavy Rain! But I don't think it will take over VNs. See, I think Heavy Rain plays more like an interactive movie. There's a significant difference in that. When I play visual novels, it's kind of like sitting down and enjoying a book. I can relax, read at my own pace, and make the odd decision every once and awhile.

Heavy rain is nice in a different sort of way. It wraps you up in the scene and I swear some parts took several years off my life because I was freaking out thinking I've killed one of the characters. Heavy Rain is intense and I feel like I've really experienced something special by playing it. However, I don't get that relaxing visual novel feel from it.

So in essence, no. I don't think Heavy Rain will replace VNs. I do think a lot of games may try to be more like it and that is great in a lot of ways. However, it is a completely different experience from the VN norm. I think it will most likely just branch off and people will enjoy one or the other with a few people (like me) enjoying both of them.

User avatar
Riviera
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 660
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2008 2:39 pm
Location: Somewhere
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#9 Post by Riviera » Sat May 28, 2011 12:47 pm

This reminds me about something, nowadays we have lot of games adapting VN elements (games like Luminous Arc came to my mind) yet we didn't call them VN, and a lot of VNs now has actual gameplay like other genres (RPG, action, etc) and we still call them VN even if the game focused more on gameplay rather than story. This is kinda confusing =A='a
This gets me, too. I posted up a topic about gamebooks.. those are almost exactly the same as VNs except that they are mostly western styled. This line is getting even blurrier with more VNs having RPG elements and systems within them.

To use an example, Piece of Wonder had a lot of strategy RPG elements in it. It felt like it took up about half the game if not a little more, yet it's still classified as a VN, even if Wiki lists it as a hybrid VN/RPG.
Will edit/proofread for cookies.

Image
I do free voicework! Click here for samples

User avatar
jack_norton
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 4035
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 5:41 pm
Completed: Too many! See my homepage
Projects: A lot! See www.winterwolves.com
Tumblr: winterwolvesgames
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#10 Post by jack_norton » Sat May 28, 2011 1:27 pm

Yes that's what I was talking about previously. My game Spirited Heart is not like Princess Maker for sure, but is definitely NOT a "visual novel". If I had to classify it myself would be a fantasy life simulation game. Some people also classify Planet Stronghold as RPG/VN "hybrid", and even in this case I'm not sure :) I mean, it's not that being labeled that way is bad, I'm completely fine. The fact is that people associate certain things to VN:
- manga artwork
- lots of texts :D (but even Bioware games have lots of texts!)
- romance aspect (see above)

I think is correct to say a game is a VN if the predominant part of its gameplay is VN.
follow me on Image Image Image Image
computer games

User avatar
Riviera
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 660
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2008 2:39 pm
Location: Somewhere
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#11 Post by Riviera » Sat May 28, 2011 6:41 pm

Yeah, when I went off and thought about it, I realized that people who aren't familiar with VNs could technically classify games like Planet Stronghold to be adventure games or just plain RPGs. A great deal of computer adventure games follow a format a bit like that.

But then there seems to be a big debate over every genre... even the distinction between adventure game and rpg gives people trouble.
Will edit/proofread for cookies.

Image
I do free voicework! Click here for samples

User avatar
jack_norton
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 4035
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 5:41 pm
Completed: Too many! See my homepage
Projects: A lot! See www.winterwolves.com
Tumblr: winterwolvesgames
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#12 Post by jack_norton » Sun May 29, 2011 3:40 am

Yes, and today I got some feedback on PS and some users complained about "wall of texts" :D
It's fine, indeed there IS quite some texts, but there are on Bioware games too (then of course, those are much better than my games lol). So I guess the issue here isn't really the text but either that player who doesn't like "normal RPG" and prefers action stuff like Torchlight, or perhaps having a fully voiced and also 3d animated actors can "mitigate" the effect of NEEDING lots of texts to tell the story.
I myself find more relaxing watching a tv series than reading a book, so I can presume it's the same for games depending how they're represented.
follow me on Image Image Image Image
computer games

User avatar
LateWhiteRabbit
Eileen-Class Veteran
Posts: 1852
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 2:47 pm
Projects: The Space Between
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#13 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sun May 29, 2011 6:25 am

jack_norton wrote:Yes that's what I was talking about previously. My game Spirited Heart is not like Princess Maker for sure, but is definitely NOT a "visual novel". If I had to classify it myself would be a fantasy life simulation game. Some people also classify Planet Stronghold as RPG/VN "hybrid", and even in this case I'm not sure :) I mean, it's not that being labeled that way is bad, I'm completely fine. The fact is that people associate certain things to VN:
- manga artwork
- lots of texts :D (but even Bioware games have lots of texts!)
- romance aspect (see above)

I think is correct to say a game is a VN if the predominant part of its gameplay is VN.
Yeah, the term "Visual Novel" for the genre is kind of screwy, and the genre is nebulous anyway. I mean, if we take those three things people associate with VNs, those could apply to nearly all the JRPGs ever made. Look at Persona 4 - that was a high budget VN with RPG battles really.

"Visual Novel" as a name for the genre itself is not great from a marketing standpoint. I'd say the term "interactive drama" used by a lot of the big dogs is a better "sale" as it were. Interactive Drama implies choices, events, and excitement. Visual Novel implies looking at a wall of text. Maybe strictly accurate, but it doesn't help us when most people hear the term and immediately go - "That sounds boring!" Because, really, it does. It's all marketing, but that matters, whether you are trying to expand appreciation of the genre or boost sales. I mean, really, "Kinetic Novel" sounds more exciting than "Visual Novel", and all you do in those is click. (We might as well call real books kinetic novels, as you move the pages with your fingers!)

The story-telling old genres are all experiencing a resurgence of popularity in AAA titles. Telltale Games has found massive success with their new adventure games, Heavy Rain was a break-out hit, and was essentially just a choose-your-own-adventure book brought to life, and LA Noire is as pure an old-school adventure game as I have every seen, but the graphics are shiny and the faces incredible. All those games as "interactive dramas", they give an experience players can't get elsewhere.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, VNs biggest problem is that they don't offer anything unique. Manga, books, movies, games, all do what VNs do, but better. Especially games. Notice at the top of my post when I said the criteria of VNs could apply to a lot of JRPGs? Its true. Why play a VN when I can get just as interesting a story, with choices, and GAMEPLAY, and even better graphics? Why play a kinetic novel when I can read a manga? Same thing - a long story with pictures. (Not to mention that in a manga, each picture is different!)

I mean, all the most successful games to come out of the VN community ARE NOT REALLY VNs. They are pure games. Jack's games like Spirited Heart, Cute Knight, etc. They offer something that can't be had in a different medium. Strictly speaking they are in wholly different genres - life simulation, RPG, etc. We should not fall into the trap of labeling everything with text, choices, and anime pictures as VNs. Nor should we automatically apply that label because a game has been made in Ren'py. It is a problem for fans and a big turn off to potential new fans when we can't tell what gameplay to expect from "visual novels" - will it be 4 choices scattered over 4 hours of text and pictures? Or will it be a rich simulation with stats, multiple choices every few minutes, and occasional battles?

Even the most successful VNs out of Japan have more gameplay elements than not, even in the past. Game like True Love '95. Or games that have so many choices that change and affect gameplay it is insane.

I'm not trying to start a fight here or offend, but I saw the thread title and thought, "YES! Pay attention." Major developers are going to start making more and more story focused and "interactive drama" games, especially after the success of titles like Heavy Rain and LA Noire. Visual novels as a genre really need to find or decide what makes them unique and worth having as a separate genre and exploit that to the fullest. And I don't think "being anime" counts as sufficient reason or difference.

User avatar
jack_norton
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 4035
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 5:41 pm
Completed: Too many! See my homepage
Projects: A lot! See www.winterwolves.com
Tumblr: winterwolvesgames
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#14 Post by jack_norton » Sun May 29, 2011 6:55 am

Yes I think you're really getting the point here. The right term is not "VN" but "story-telling". Which is really not the same thing at all. So the correct thing to say is that more and more games both indie and mainstream are adding/using storytelling, which doesn't necessarily means 150,000 words of text (you can tell a story with some dialogues, with an art style, good music/background effects and more).
Heck, even in casual games now most hidden object games have many cutscenes, voices, dialogues and a story (even if not sure how many casual players bother with it!).
I like this shift, since I like storytelling in games :)
follow me on Image Image Image Image
computer games

User avatar
LateWhiteRabbit
Eileen-Class Veteran
Posts: 1852
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 2:47 pm
Projects: The Space Between
Contact:

Re: Interactive Dramas (a.k.a. Heavy Rain), the new VNs?

#15 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sun May 29, 2011 7:13 am

jack_norton wrote: I like this shift, since I like storytelling in games :)
Oh, yeah. Me too. I've been in "hog-heaven" as they say with the bigger focus on storytelling in games from everyone - indie and mainstream both. LA Noire kind of surprised me - I mean, it is a multi-million dollar project with the most advanced facial technology in all of gaming, published by ROCKSTAR, and it is almost entirely a pure adventure game in the same vein as Grim Fandango or Monkey Island. And the gaming masses are lapping it up like honey.

Now, this could be because gamers have gotten more sophisticated in their tastes lately, or it could be all about the presentation and packaging. I don't think it is the former, so it is probably the latter. Meaning the old adventure games probably couldn't make a comeback till now because outside of Telltale and now Rockstar, everyone kept trying to wrap them in the same old packaging.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users