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Silicon Rose

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Love Games [Sep. 17th, 2007|09:05 pm]
Silicon Rose
[Current Mood |irritatedirritated]

I haven't played many ren'ai (relationship/dating sim) games, though I've been expressing more interest in them recently.  Actually, I have to say most of my experiences with them have been pretty bad.

When you meet a new person in life, you typically don't know how to react to them: what topics to bring up, which to avoid.  You're in a feeling out mode, trying to get an idea of what the other person is like without stepping on a conversational landmine.  One problem I have with ren'ai games is that I feel like this period never ends.  I actually have to worry about two people: the character I'm ostensibly controlling AND his conversation partner.  For example, it's not uncommon for the game to give you a choice between two answers which seem fine, but one of which will send both you and the conversation partner off the handle, while the other proceeds to an amiable conclusion.  These choices may be indistinguishable, or they may be designed so that you have to say "the wrong thing" in order to get the right result.  The worst part of this is that when the player has already realized they've hit a conversational landmine, they frequently aren't given a way out.  Instead of analyzing how the other person reacted to what they said and perhaps apologizing, perhaps calling them on something that they're being unfair on, your character may instead just go off in a huff or have a hissy fit right then and there.  You're never given a chance to adapt.

This rather leads into my second problem, which is personality quirks psychoses.  Your main character may be healthy or most certainly not, but I can almost guarantee you that the surrounding characters will be insane.  Oh, that's not how they put it.  They're depressed, or shy, or acting-in-your-best-interests-really, or possessed, or any number of other things, but it's usually taken to such a ridiculous level that apologizing for bumping into a girl you just met could result in you being skewered with a knife for your impoliteness.  No matter how happy the character appears, frequently they have a dark past/horrible secret/inexplicably committed murder/something.  This is how you get conflict in ren'ai games.

Ren'ai games are supposed to be games, but they don't feel much like them.  Due to the above issues, you could find yourself heading down the wrong path because you did what seemed like a good idea at the time, and it turns out that decision was an unfixable error.  Want to go after a particular character?  Better make up your mind, because if you accidentally end up going down the wrong character route because you wanted to see what your friend was doing instead of chasing after your love interest, you're then faced with the fact that you probably didn't even make the right decisions earlier in the game and are now screwed into a bad ending.  You're rarely given enough clues to figure out what you're supposed to be doing to get the route you want, so it's more like Russian Roulette than anything.  

Part of the problems in ren'ai games comes from the removal of intent.  You decide the actions of the character, but the game decides why they did that there.  It doesn't matter that you, as the player, have decided that you don't want to do something, like not killing the evil guy because you think he might not actully be evil.  Nope.  If the story doesn't fully support your action, you won't be believed.  For all the illusion of control they give you, it's just little nudges here and there, and once you've sent your little mouse down one path, there's no turning back.  The door's locked behind you.

...meh.  My opinion?  Ren'ai games aren't worth playing unless you have a strategy guide.  The best intents in the world don't give you a snowball's chance in hell of actually getting a good ending, let alone hooking up with the character you're actually interested in.

I'm trying to figure out how I could possibly fix this and make a ren'ai game that I'd like playing - as a game. 

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ketsugami
2007-09-18 05:48 am (UTC)
My conclusion after examination has been that those games are dumb. They're long multiple-choice trees, usually with not much sense behind the choices. Even if the characters are designed to be appealing (as they are in the bishoujo games and I assume in the ones you play) I'd almost always rather watch an anime version. (And that's saying something, because the anime versions are usually bad, with a few exceptions.)
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[User Picture]From: siliconrose
2007-09-18 02:13 pm (UTC)
It's not real life. In real life I have a chance of reading the other person's expressions and actions and attempting to correct for it. I don't have to gleefully walk off a social cliff because the game says so. There aren't very many unfixable errors, especially if you're careful during that period I was talking about.
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[User Picture]From: pristis
2007-09-19 01:14 am (UTC)
"Highly volatile"? How many people do you know that are "highly volatile"? Answer honestly.

Most people are actually pretty reasonable. As long as you're sincere in what you're saying, able to think rationally about what you're doing, willing to compromise, and careful to communicate clearly, you can usually patch up an argument, misunderstanding, or faux pas. You're overanalyzing things, and I think you know it.

I could probably add an extended metaphor from control theory, talking about sensitivity, feedback, and overcompensation, but it would be a really dull metaphor.

All true stories end the exact same way, after all.

Yes. Everyone lives happily ever after.
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[User Picture]From: benabik
2007-09-18 03:49 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm... Tetris as life?

(I know what you meant, but this is what first popped to mind.)
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[User Picture]From: mauracelt
2007-09-18 12:32 pm (UTC)
These choices may be indistinguishable, or they may be designed so that you have to say "the wrong thing" in order to get the right result. The worst part of this is that when the player has already realized they've hit a conversational landmine, they frequently aren't given a way out. Instead of analyzing how the other person reacted to what they said and perhaps apologizing, perhaps calling them on something that they're being unfair on, your character may instead just go off in a huff or have a hissy fit right then and there. You're never given a chance to adapt.

Sounds just like junior high, huh? This is what my son is going through at school, just no way in or out, is there? *shakes head*
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[User Picture]From: pristis
2007-09-19 01:29 am (UTC)
I've often thought about creating a game of that type and filling it with really incredibly weird people. ("Why, yes-- I DO like buttered shark fins!") My initial idea was to use hideously aberrant personalities, so that your character slowly realizes that he or she is walled in by crazy people, but I wasn't sure where to go from there.

I wonder what an adventure game/dating sim would be like. Particularly if you had Curse-of-Monkey-Island-level dialogue.
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[User Picture]From: siliconrose
2007-09-19 03:34 am (UTC)
^^;; The problem is, a lot of ren'ai games actually ARE like that. They're usually not the wacky sort of weird, but aberrant personalities? Check. Double check.
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[User Picture]From: froborr
2007-09-19 08:05 am (UTC)
SMBC reference! Yay! I'm not the only person who reads it!
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[User Picture]From: froborr
2007-09-19 01:37 pm (UTC)
Um... sorry about that. I went back to look at this thread at about 3 a.m., decided my comments were really stupid and whiny, and deleted them. Which, given that it's your journal, was really not my right to do. I'm sorry, and in future I won't delete comments from your journal except in the rare instance that I screw up a post and immediately replace it with at non-screwed up version.
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