Think I might campaign for political office one day on the platform of reforming VNDB so that not every game that has character sprites and text boxes gets labelled a "visual novel," even and including games made before visual novel was even a term.
Why???? It's super non-linear; came out when sound novels were barely a thing, let alone VNs; has hardly a line of prose, is mechanically related to Japanese PC-style sim games; and the canonical love interest is treated like a final boss that has to be actively planned for.
I say none of this to disparage VNs. They were a radical development in 90s/00s games that would inform stuff like dating sims and give them the confidence to have more narrative.

But as I've said before, this mashing of genres makes Japanese game history unnecessarily murky.
Between this and that debate over Sakura Taisen's genre that I triggered back in April, I increasingly get the feeling maybe I need to hammer out an "anatomy of dating sims (as it's understood in Japan) vs similar-looking genres" sort of post.

Would folks find that useful?

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More from @iiotenki

10 Sep
LRT: I've said it before, but one thing folks often miss in mainstream western games discourse is that Japanese games are often willing to at least temporarily forgo "fun" in a traditional gamey sense in favor of other types of emotional engagement with a longer term payoff.
Sometimes the short-term goal in a lot of the types of Japanese games critics and devs rally against immediate player satisfaction. Sometimes it really is about going through the motions of exploring mechanics and systems and their implications within the context of a narrative.
Such games are very much so making a social contract, asking players to trust them up front that even if maybe not everything they're experiencing is "enjoyable" right at that moment, eventually there will be that payoff and the justification will feel clearer in hindsight.
Read 13 tweets
2 Sep
I finished the drama CD for Shiori's route of Tokimemo Drama Vol. 3 earlier and it was sweet, but lacking. So, I'm plunging back into the world of Feeling Sad About Shiori! Maybe I'll make this a thread about all the cool ways KojiPro translated a dating sim to an adventure game?
For those of you who are new, while most people think KojiPro's adventure game output starts and stops at Snatcher and Policenauts, that's not true. From 1997 to 1999, they developed a series of three Tokimeki Memorial adventure game spinoffs in the leadup to Tokimemo 2.
Each one centers on a different heroine from the original: Saki for Vol. 1, Ayaka for Vol. 2, and mascot Shiori for Vol. 3. These aren't frivolous fanservice, either. Each one builds upon the existing cast in significant ways while feeling true to the (sparse) source material.
Read 33 tweets
31 Aug
I'm really glad Moon finally exists in English and intend to pick it up, but I hope the real takeaway folks get from it is that Japanese game design has had that level of awareness about games for a long time. They're not a new development just because games like Nier exhibit it.
The thing is that a lot of the best examples of that in old Japanese games come from genres that were difficult sells to localize their heyday, particularly adventure games. People remember the Japanese PS1 output as being full of RPGs when it was and remains incredibly diverse.
And these games still have a lot of stuff to say, some of which is even more pertinent now more than ever. (It's why I scream about WRPGs not paying attention to how dating sims solved problems with relationship mechanics!) But as Moon shows, the issue is often a linguistic one.
Read 6 tweets
22 Aug
Like OP, no beef with Hanako Games, but if the premise of your article is "These western games will fix the problems of the Japanese side of VNs," my response will always be that you need to do your homework on genre history and the conversation those devs have had for decades.
I am extremely, extremely glad devs outside of Japan have VNs as a creative outlet to tell stories, especially ones without the resources to make more expensive games. Their presence and voices absolutely enrich the medium and I'm not here to tell them they don't belong.
But such articles about "western games will save ___ Japanese genre" are always so condescending. You don't know the full story of Japanese games if you're only relying on what's been loc'd, especially genres like VNs that just weren't given room in western markets until recently
Read 5 tweets
17 Aug
The hallmark of truly great translation tech made by big corps is a complete lack of consultation with any translators ahead of time as to how good of an idea it actually is and this auto-translating stuff Twitter is testing sure is shaping up to be a standout in that regard.
"We need you to access foreign markets, but you have to stay at the bottom rung for low pay and little renown because you're only a means to the end that is content production. That is, until we finally master machine translation and can hire you even cheaper for MTE work."
Companies don't arrive at this mentality through simple ignorance. The root is tech companies treat translation as a commodity that leads to global revenue. They keep us out of the room not because they don't know better, but because our insight runs counter to their narrative.
Read 5 tweets
6 Aug
Playing so much 360 again for the first time in a decade for Idolmaster, my main take other than "They sure are onto something with this idol take on raising game" is "Wow, remember when video game controllers actually lasted longer than four hours? They should've kept that up."
I've gone through the better part of two runs without having to recharge once, which considering how one run is a not insubstantial length, feels a little astonishing when I can't sit down for, say, an extended Cold Steel session on PS4 without plugging my DS4 in at least once.
It's on my mind mostly because of Sony insisting that PS5 controllers being required for PS5 games is totally "to offer next gen experiences" and not because, y'know, money. Because we all saw how much the light bar and touch pad added in exchange for bad battery life on the PS4.
Read 4 tweets

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