Is Gone Home a Visual Novel?

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qirien
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Is Gone Home a Visual Novel?

#1 Post by qirien » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:12 pm

I just played the indie game Gone Home, and it had a lot of things in common with a visual novel. Most of the story is told via reading documents and journals you find. But the exploration element also makes it quite different from a visual novel, as it uses the space and unknown-ness of the mansion to create suspense and atmosphere.

Either way, it's certainly a great story-based game, and I'm always happy to see more of those that are well-done and getting more attention.
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Re: Is Gone Home a Visual Novel?

#2 Post by SundownKid » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:01 am

There's a fine line between visual novels and adventure games. But I'd say that visual novels usually have no environmental interaction, whereas adventure games do have segments where you can examine things and/or visit different places in a non linear way.

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Re: Is Gone Home a Visual Novel?

#3 Post by jwilliams » Mon Feb 01, 2016 6:00 am

I don't think that you can call it a Visual Novel. It's more like Dear Esther. Adventure game without puzzles, but with lots of text and thoughts.

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Re: Is Gone Home a Visual Novel?

#4 Post by PurpleMind » Wed Jul 06, 2016 2:10 pm

I wouldn't call Gone Home a visual novel either. As it has been said, VNs lack environmental interaction, are mostly based on dialogues/monologues, have limited audio-visual potential (more visual than audio, though). It's much rather an experience. Speaking of Gone Home, I highly recommend Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.
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Re: Is Gone Home a Visual Novel?

#5 Post by trooper6 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 3:21 pm

My understanding is that visual novels are a subcategory of adventure games in the first place. Also, I notice that as computing power has increased, what people imagining a VN doing and being like (in the western VN tradition like Telltale games at least) is getting expanding to have more exploration...or at least the seeming of exploration.

This to me is like cRPGs. Many cRPG purists insist that real, true cRPGs don't have action/adventure elements, they only have turn-based combat, etc. I remember them insisting that Mass Effect is not an RPG because it has real time combat. I suppose it is fine to stick to an older definition of the genre...but the genre itself has expanded...and in the new understanding of RPGs, things like Mass Effect certainly fall within the genre.

I think there is a Western-style VN tradition that overlaps with, but isn't the same as the Japanese VN tradition. A number of the vocal VN traditionalists are fans of the Japanese VN tradition. But the Western-style is doing other things...and that is also fine...and that is also a VN...just a different style of VN.

So is Gone Home a VN? Hm...I think for VN purists no. For me? I'd say it is a border case in a time when the boundaries between adventure game, environmental story game and visual novel is getting fuzzier. So...hybrid?
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Re: Is Gone Home a Visual Novel?

#6 Post by PurpleMind » Wed Jul 06, 2016 5:08 pm

trooper6 wrote:I remember them insisting that Mass Effect is not an RPG because it has real time combat. I suppose it is fine to stick to an older definition of the genre...but the genre itself has expanded...and in the new understanding of RPGs, things like Mass Effect certainly fall within the genre.
I don't agree with that. While Mass Effect certainly does have RPG elements, they are only that - elements (to point them out: importance of good story, well-written characters, dialogue options, level-skill mechanism, first installment also had the inventory (which was terribly annoying IMO, on a side note)). That all being pointed out, let's take a look at the core mechanism of the game - 80% of the time we are hiding behind a cover and shooting enemies. With our own mice and keyboards. That's more hack'n'slashy that RPG, though this category also doesn't fit here. What ME is IMO, is a genius hybrid of the aforementioned genres (minus hacknslash, plus tactical shooters maybe).
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Re: Is Gone Home a Visual Novel?

#7 Post by trooper6 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:04 pm

Yes, I get there are old school purists who don't think Mass Effect is an RPG...but my point is that the rest of the world has basically accepted it as an RPG. It is listed as an RPG in sales categories, it is marketed as an RPG, it is reviewed as an RPG, the people who make the game think of it as an RPG. For young'uns...say people who are 18...these *are* what RPGs are...they've never played Zork.

Genre definitions change over time and some populations will always resist change...but it happens.
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Re: Is Gone Home a Visual Novel?

#8 Post by PurpleMind » Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:11 pm

trooper6 wrote:Genre definitions change over time and some populations will always resist change...but it happens.
That's true.

I believe it is listed as RPG because it's a business mental shortcut. There are no "XYZ elements" genres, hence the simplifying. Though, to call Mass Effect an RPG seems quite unfair to me. But you are probably right.
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Re: Is Gone Home a Visual Novel?

#9 Post by trooper6 » Thu Jul 07, 2016 3:02 pm

This is the age-old tension of innovation with tradition.
It is about who gets to define something.
It is also about tensions when things become more popular and new fans come in who have different expectations than old fans.

Some would say real bluegrass can't have drums because Bill Monroe didn't have drums...but then are we saying that one can only play bluegrass if they pretend that it is the 1940s? Rock has added instruments and changed since the days of Chuck Berry and Elvis and is still considered rock. But bluegrass is a much smaller genre and therefore can hold its boundaries tighter.

There was a time when RPGs were really popular and had lots of variety. Then they became less popular in the face of FPS's...the smaller audience allowed for a hardening of boundaries...then with Bioware's console titles and Fable and the Witcher and the whole new wave of RPGs...that brought in a new audience and more popularity, definitions start expanding. This may irritate the people who stuck by the genre when it wasn't cool, or they may be excited...but things change.

I see this definitely happening with VNs. It is a small genre that is gaining popularity with new people who are pushing at the boundaries of the genre...some like it, some don't and reject the new works as not VNs.

I've heard people say something isn't a VN if it isn't 800x600. I've heard people say something isn't a VN if it isn't from Japan or inspired by Japanese works. I've heard people say something isn't a VN if it doesn't use an anime style. I've heard people argue about gameplay, about choices, about....gosh, about everything!

Video games are particularly tricky because genre in video games sometimes means genre like we use in literature, to describe narrative themes/techniques (Silent Hill is a Survival Horror game), sometimes we use genre to describe POV (Halo is a first person shooter, Gears of War is a third person shooter) or game mechanics (shooter, walking simulator, point and click adventure)...sometimes narrative structure (open world vs linear).

Video game genres are so...inconsistent.

They are important, not only sales, but also because people identify with genres...and judge others by their fandom...so people take all of this very seriously. But it is also a social construct which shifts with time and place and context.

I, personally, wouldn't put Gone Home in the Visual Novel category at this point in time...seems more hybrid to me...but I would put the Walking Dead with no hesitation. But in thirty years? It might be different.
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*Last Thing Done (Aug 17): Finished coding emotions and camera for 4/10 main labels.
*Currently Doing: Coding of emotions and camera for the labels--On 5/10
*First Next thing to do: Code in all CG and special animation stuff
*Next Next thing to do: Set up film animation
*Other Thing to Do: Do SFX and Score (maybe think about eye blinks?)
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