What makes a good bishoujo game?

Discuss visual novels and story-based games that didn't originate on this forum.
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What makes a good bishoujo game?

#1 Post by Blue Lemma » Thu Jun 03, 2004 2:07 am

It was bound to happen sometime! The question:

What makes a good bishoujo game? As far as visual novels or other types?

Tell me, darn it! :twisted:

Lemma: :roll:

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#2 Post by Jerails » Thu Jun 03, 2004 2:59 am

Well, I can only think of two things at the moment.

For those of us with less than satisfactory imaginations, I'd suggest vivid pictures with plenty of personality!

For the people who could recreate every moment of World War I in their head just based on battle plans, I'd suggest very descriptive writings that tell a story easy to paint. Like instead of just saying, "The dog fetched the bone," you go into a more descriptive detail with, "The dog cautiously crept up behind the bone, curious in finding this new item in it's yard."
It's been a while, folks!

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#3 Post by batpig » Thu Jun 03, 2004 3:00 am

I guess my reply might not really pertain to "bishoujo" games so much, but to romance sim games I played that I really enjoyed.

What makes them enjoyable? I'll rank them according to what I think is important.

1. Characters: I think this is probably the most important quality, moreso than anything else. After all, you will be spending the time playing the game to win their hearts, right? If they are not very interesting or memorable, even if the art and the story is quality, and the gameplay is very good, you won't enjoy it very much and will probably forget the game once it's over. (And you DO need good characters for good stories) Good characters need both interesting personalities and good designs to balance.

2. Art: You'll be hard-pressed to find a succesful game title of this genre that has poor art quality. Because renai games do not have too much action, you will need to have something to draw the attention of the player. It is also important in making the characters "beautiful" thus making winning their heart a fun goal for the player to achieve.

3. Plot: Like I mentioned, renai games has less interaction than the average games, so you will need to have a reason for the player to be interested in the game. A good plot will keep the player hooked into the world. However, if the characters and art is interesting enough, the plot can sometimes take a back seat. But you do need to have a plot that is somewhat engaging, or else the player will always press the skip button to see the next CG.

4. Gameplay: Gameplay might not seem so important - most succesful visual novels are nothing but novels where you click on choices. However, not every game player is patient. I think for the west especially, the opinion towards game is more of a favor to action. For me personally, while reading an engaging story is interesting, if there are other things to do to change the pace of the game, I am less impatient and can absorb the game more.

5. Voice acting: (This is mainly personal preference btw) I will say, I think this is more important than music. I've played a game fine with voice but no background, but when a game has no voice acting, but has bgm, I feel a bit edgy. Perhaps it's because I can't read kanji and the voices help ^^; but at any rate, it's also one of the main reasons why I'm so hooked on Angelique - I love the voice actors XD Good voice acting will help convey the characters more and add more dimentions to the character, and since I feel characters are the most important part of a renai game, I see voice acting as an integral part.

6. BGM: Playing a game without a mood music is hard.. and since renai games are all about love and emotion, BGM is one thing that can enhance the playing experience. However, I've played games without BGM before and still manage to enjoy them, so I'd say if you have a high quality on at least 3 of the criterias above, you can go without it.

But of course.. there is one very important factor that is a combination of all this, and that I feel is most important of all!

The conveying of the emotion of love

All of those 6 things I listed, they all must combine to establish and convey this emotion to the player. After all, that's the reason why people play these games. And that's why some of us here dislike the mindless sex games. If we don't feel 'love' from the game, I don't think it is too enjoyable.

*exhausted* I'm done now ^^; Sorry for the long post

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#4 Post by Sai » Thu Jun 03, 2004 8:40 am

Hey batpig, don't apologize, that was really a good read ^^

Anyway hmm.... the first thing that attracted me to these games was the artwork. I've always been into drawing and so on, and what interested me in anime was how different the art style was. So when I saw the amazing quality of artwork in renai games I was really impressed! I really can't stand "adult scenes" though personally whilst on the topic of imagery. But that's me.
Next would be music, because I have gotten into collecting music in recent years. And renai game music can also be pretty impressive and of a good emotive quality.
Third would be plot, if I get to play more English renai then this would go up, but since I can't understand most, surface graphics have been my priority. But either way without a good plot, I would just buy the artbook and soundtrack instead of the game so naturally for the game itself this is going to be important. And that is side-by-side with character dveelopment since without one you can't have the other.

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#5 Post by Erik » Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:53 am

I think the plot and the characters are the most improtant. Like Batpig said, you'll need a nice character to make the object of the game (i.e. getting the best ending) worth the player's time. Graphics are nice too, but I don't think I consider them more important that plot.
Since all visual novels I have ever played - two :oops: , one by BL and one by Mikey (kick me, I still have to reply in his thread) - have been in English, I don't think I need voice acting, since English is easy for me to read and understand. I'm not good with Kanji though, so if BL might ever decide to go Japanese, I hope there will be voice acting (and my vocabulary will be better than it is now).
Gameplay - I don't need game speed in a visual novel, when I play I take the time for it. After all, you can't tell a person to skip a line in real life either :P

And now it's time for dinner, if I think of anything else I'll edit it in.

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#6 Post by musical74 » Wed Jan 05, 2005 9:49 pm

*reviving an old topic*

I would have to agree that the number one thing for what makes a good bishoujo game is the various characters and their respective personailites. The artwork could be wonderful and the music great but if the characters are all a bunch of generic nobodies...I prefer a game where the characters are developed and have posonailites and the artwork might need a bit work over a game where the artwork is top notch and the characters are all incredibly boring.

Similar to the characters is the overall plot. Granted this hasn't always been a big deal with bishoujo games - and sometimes plays very little role indeed - it is always nice when there is a plot or a plan of action involved. What's the main character's motivation? Are there hurdles that he/she has to overcome? What about nasty surprises?

I like a good background music when playing any kind of game...it adds to the total feel of the game. While music and sound effects won't make or break a game, it is definitely a plus when the character runs into something very different and the music accompanies it *thinking the shock music in True Love when the main character discovers a very disturbing secret*

Artwork...I have mixed feelings on this. I want the artwork/graphics to look nice but at the same time...I'd rather a game where the graphics and artwork are a bit dated but the story is superb over a game where the graphics are top notch and the there is no story whatsoever. This isn't as important to me as good character and development and the music are.
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#7 Post by mikey » Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:46 pm

I've redesigned my encyclopedia a bit and on the first page, there are 4 of my most favorite b-games.
(Phantom, Desire, Gibo, Private Nurse)
As you can see, they differ in style, presentation, art and content.
So I have really no idea what makes a game good (generally). The only thing I can say that while playing these games I really felt they were "perfectly rounded" as James Bond would put it. :D

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#8 Post by Tage » Thu Jan 06, 2005 7:02 pm

Hm... This is MY list of what I think is important... It is in order of the most important to the least important, but they're all still important.

1. Easy-to-use Interface
It has to be easy to navigate controls. After all, if I'm too frustrated with the controls to play...it doesn't matter how good the rest of the factors are.

2. Story
This is absolute in any game that has the potential to be the best. The story must be interesting. It must captivate you. And more importantly, with any game...it must have a goal to work for. Not only this, but the ending HAS to be fulfilling. I HATE it when I play a really good game only to be left feeling incomplete at the end. What happens between him and soandso? I MUST KNOW!! That is unless you make a sequel...

3. Story Telling
It must have great story telling. It will send you into the game and make you feel as if you really Are the character.

4. Character Development
What would a game be without interesting characters? Everyone has their own quirks--obvious and hidden. Everyone has a different history, different things that lead up to where you come in in the game. Everyone has their likes and dislikes. It's important for you to convey these well, or how else can someone fall in love with a fictional character? And how is that fictional character supposed to fall in love with you? You have to make it believable.

5. Descriptive Choices and Logical Actions
This is VERY important. When you allow someone to choose different things, the result must be logical. And do not make choices vague; you must make them so that the player will basically know what his character is going to do before he clicks the choice. I'll put it this way--if I am the character, I want to do what I want to do. I don't want to choose something thinking that's what I want my character to do and then find that my character is doing the exact opposite of what I wanted him to do. It doesn't happen often, but when it does...it completely takes me out of the game and I realize that I'm playing a game. And then I have to go back just to choose what I really wanted to do.

6. Correct Spelling and Grammar
This is also a factor that will decide whether you can stay involved in the game or realize you're playing it. If I have to think once about what the heck they were trying to say, the mood's gone. Things in the story that would devastate you, make you happy, make you cry, etc. will no longer affect you if you're not in the mood. All you notice is this confusing sentence.

7. Options
The game should have options to customize things such toggling on and off music, sound, and voices. Saving option...I prefer for it to save EXACTLY where I left off. I don't like having replay/skip a lot to get back where I was.

And that is my list of importance. Now for the order optionals should go in...

1. Art
You must visually express every characters emotions. If soandso is angry, make them look angry. If they look depressed, make them look depressed. Doesn't matter how good the art is, just convey everything correctly.

2. Music
Music is definitely a huge plus in captivating players. It helps set the mood. Most importantly, it conveys your character's feelings since you cannot see your own face most of the time.

3A. Sounds
It definitely helps you mentalize(I think I just made that word up, lol) the surroundings. There are three things that completely captivate a player. The emotions, the visual surroundings, and the audial surroundings.

3B. Voice Acting
I thought I'd add this to 3 since the reason for using it is the same. However, I thought I'd separate it from Sounds and put it after it since it is less important but needs separate rules. When you are going to use voice acting, the important things are as follows (they're all equally important):
  • Natural
    The voices must sound natural, or you will feel like you're watching young Anakin Skywalker. :roll:
  • Emotions
    The emotions must be conveyed, and MUST be believable. I don't want to laugh at the character that's supposed to be crying... P=
  • Matching
    The voice MUST match the character. I remember watching this flash movie of some really cool gun-wielding secret agent. There were all these cool fight scenes. The art was great, so was the sound. And then, !!BLAM!! He talks...and he has a very stereotypical southern accent. I mean, I just had to close the window... It didn't fit the character at all, and it ruined the mood. In real life I wouldn't be so judgemental, but it's a game!! If you can't match the characters correctly, just don't voice act the game at all. It will be better off.
That's my list...P=

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#9 Post by mikey » Fri Jan 07, 2005 5:18 am

Tage wrote:6. Correct Spelling and Grammar
This is also a factor that will decide whether you can stay involved in the game or realize you're playing it. If I have to think once about what the heck they were trying to say, the mood's gone. Things in the story that would devastate you, make you happy, make you cry, etc. will no longer affect you if you're not in the mood. All you notice is this confusing sentence.
Oh yes, this is why I never found my way to OhTextHooker... :(

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#10 Post by Jerails » Fri Jan 07, 2005 5:58 am

And THAT is why I'm sometimes over critical about spelling/grammar...Actually, you know what? No. That word won't suffice. I'm fastidious about it!
It's been a while, folks!

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#11 Post by GLACIER » Sun Jun 19, 2005 1:26 pm

- a large cast of characters
- an in-depth game system, preferably with many parameters to deal with
- longer playtime
- a wide variety of options (date spots, activities, etc.)
- challenge
- a minimal number of pre-scripted sequences, esp. ones involving specific characters. Indeed, game system and regular interactivity are the central elements of a simulation. While the characters must be strong and the backstory/plot good, you don't want a detailed, linear story

- strong storytelling. Practically the whole thing is pre-scripted.
- branching paths, multiple endings
- many opportunities for player decisions
- in some cases, simulation elements might spice things up. For example, True Love and Together Forever incorporated those.

- cute characters, each with distinct personalities
- good music
- interesting player choices (dialogue, etc.)

Personal Preferences
- humor
- an endearing and charming atmosphere
- writing (particularly emotional aspects) that's subtle and implicit, not heavy-handed and forced. IMO, the player shouldn't be told what he/she should be feeling as the nature of the events will take care of that. Additionally, games don't have to be especially romantic or sad to provide a good experience

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#12 Post by mikey » Sun Jun 19, 2005 4:15 pm

GLACIER wrote:writing (particularly emotional aspects) that's subtle and implicit, not heavy-handed and forced. IMO, the player shouldn't be told what he/she should be feeling as the nature of the events will take care of that.
For a game-maker, this is a question of balance. Less pesonality means more freedom, but inevitably less immersion. More guidance means your target group will be much narrower, but the people will feel the game more emotionally. Decisions, decisions... :roll:

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#13 Post by ShiraiJunichi » Sun Jun 19, 2005 11:54 pm

Glacier wrote:- a large cast of characters
I don't think a large cast is necessary to make a good game. There are good things about using a small cast too. With a small cast, you can give each of the characters more screen time, and more personality depth. I'll take one well defined, complex character over three flat two dimensional characters. Of course, if you can develop all the characters well, then a large cast is good. With a large cast, there is more replayability, and the player will more likely find the character that they would truly want to go for.

batpig wrote:Voice acting: (This is mainly personal preference btw) I will say, I think this is more important than music
Really? Even if you can read the text just fine? And what if the voice acting... isn't professional? I know that Ren'Py supports voice acting, but I've yet to see it be used. Would anyone be interested in seeing a nonprofessional game with voice acting? I think it could be a lot of fun to do... but being unprofessional, it might detract from the game... What does everyone else think?

And now for my list ^_^

1- Ren'ai
What would a ren'ai game be without ren'ai? Ren'ai, IMO, is what makes these games worthwhile. If they didn't make me feel anything, they would be a waste of time. Other emotions can help out a lot too. Humor is something that I like to see. I think it's one of the reasons why ToL 1 gained popularity- I know it's a big reason why I liked it. I think sadness, and depression can help out too. By creating contrast for the ren'ai, it stands out more, and the player can feel it stronger. However, I think it should be noted that at least the best ending should completely obliterate all depression~ Ren'ai MUST come out on top. I can understand being depressed after playing a game if you had not made the right choices, and the ending was bitter. But if I manage to achieve the best ending, and I still walk away depressed, I'll feel the game didn't achieve what it was meant to.

2- Convincing
The game has to be convincing. It has to feel like it's real. The more I feel like things are actually happening, the better. I'm not saying fantasy, or anything like that, is bad. Just that whatever is being portrayed, however inconceivable, or probable it may be, it has to feel like it is happening. Ultimately, this feeds into the ren'ai- As long as I'm aware that I'm only playing a game, the ability of the game to inspire emotion is hindered.

Pretty much everything else that has been mentioned can be placed into one, or both of those categories. BG music can help set the mood, and inspire emotion (ren'ai). Character depth helps make the game feel real (convincing). And beautiful character art can inspire emotion, as well as help the character visualize what's going on (and hence, make it seem more real).

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