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Replayability in games and visual novels

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I read a post on I think GameFAQs the other day. “Persona 5 is overrated because it has no replay value.” I for one am loving P5 right now, going for the Futaba route if you care to know.

P5 is apparently a 100-hour game? If so, with so many games on the list, I will only be able to do one playthrough either way. That aside, does Persona 5 indeed lack replay value?

At first, I thought yeah, maybe. The palaces are linear (which I in fact prefer), and the story is quite directed. Then I thought, well, I am on my third playthrough for Doom 4, so how is that a fair comparison?

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When you love a game, you will create your own fun. In Final Fantasy, we had those single character runs. For Doom, I might go okay, this time I will stick to one of the two possible mods for each weapon. Perhaps a zero upgrades run. On the other hand, if the gameplay is boring, no amount of design effort will make someone come back.

For Persona 5, maybe on a second playthrough, I will stick with a different cast of characters. Let me romance this person now. Play it on hard. I will go with these Personas instead. There is always a way.

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Where did this idea of replayability come from, anyway? I recall having Ninja Gaiden on the Gameboy. The game was probably like 50 bucks back then. It is linear, and you can finish all five levels in a couple of hours. That would not be acceptable nowadays, but I still hold that game in high regard.

Recently, many designers have used the random generation approach. I am with the side that dislikes this idea, because I would rather play levels that are handcrafted. Someday, AI may become intelligent enough to be “creative”, but for now, randomly generated dungeons usually feel like haphazard mishmashes. There are of course exceptions like Spelunky.

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What about visual novels, then? If there are multiple routes, does that count as replayable? Well, if there is a true ending, I might say no, since of those routes will merge back into the same conclusion. Can you also invent your own fun if a VN contains no gameplay? Does it even matter? I have played through Narcissu 1 and 2 at least three times each. Those are as linear as they get, but I love the story, and that overrules all logic.

In the end, I dig Persona 5’s approach. Story/gameplay that is tightly designed, with variations throughout (different Personas, romantic interests etc) for replayability if you happen to love the game. When we force a game to be replayable at its core, often it becomes lifeless. If we instead insert possibilities and let gamers invent their own rules, that to me is golden.

Thank you for reading! Happy to hear your thoughts 8).

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Since visual novels having more than one route has become sort of a "expected" thing and it already counts as replay value, I'd consider extra if it has unlockeable routes or perhaps hidden extras and so on. In this day and age where games and visual novels along with basically every other medium gets more expensive it's important for them to be replayable but shouldn't really be forced, I've always considered that it was important for the consumer to feel like he got his money's worth of content.

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I think arguing about replay value is stupid. The idea was invented way in the 90's when stupid reviewers were saying "this game is linear, once you finish it there is no reason to go back". Implying that it's not even worth buying. It seems like people are more concerned about length and replay value rather than focusing on the quality of the experience you get from playing the game. If I really love a game I will want to play it again. Jrpgs are linear but does this mean we should play Final Fantasy 7 only once? To lengthen the game time developers put stupid side quests and mission in their games that have nothing to do with the story and add absolutely nothing to the experience.

And it's the same with visual novels. If it is something I really loved you bet I'll want to read it again. I don't care if it's a story focused vn with a true route. And I don't even care if it's a complete linear and without any choices. If I love it I'll read it regardless of choices and length. Higurashi is a great series and it doesn't have choices at all, you won't see me complaining about it.

If replayablity is an issue then why would we read a book twice or watch our favorite movie again. I think replay value is irrelevant, you make your own replay value. Just ask yourself was this an amazing enough experience for me personally and would ever want to experience it again. It's all about how much you loved the game in the first place.

Edited by fun2novel

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With VNs, I think its more like a book. If you like the story and characters a lot, you will eventually want to reread the story. In fact, this past Christmas I reread Swan Song after having first read it like 5 years ago, it was great to go back to it. 

Also, I just finished reading Subarashiki Hibi today, and holy shit, that VN was written to make you want to reread it after you finish the experience. At the very least it makes you want to reread the first chapter. 

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6 hours ago, DarkZedge said:

Since visual novels having more than one route has become sort of a "expected" thing and it already counts as replay value

Does it really? Do you really 'replay' those wall of scenes in common routes to get other route/ending? Or you just simply skip them, and therefore - not 'replaying'?

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47 minutes ago, Vorathiel said:

Does it really? Do you really 'replay' those wall of scenes in common routes to get other route/ending? Or you just simply skip them, and therefore - not 'replaying'?

You do have a valid point, you don't so much replay the whole game as you simply skip over to the fork in the road and choose differently but you're still playing the game again even if only partially 

 

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1985 - computer games are too short

2017 - computer games are too long

:makina:

Cave's bullet hell shooters last around 30 minutes for a complete run and are always linear, yet everyone keeps going back to them, over and over again. Discussing replayability is pointless; it's all a matter of game design.

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First, replayablility, like many such concepts related to games, is a subjective term.  Second, replayibility as a review assessment term is idiotic... the whole point of a game is to have fun, and replayability isn't at issue when it comes to fun.  

 

Now, it is true that VNs and jrpgs have very low replay values.  That's why jrpgs are so long and VNs have multiple paths.  In the case of jrpgs, it can be said that the very length of the game's story equals can cancel out complaints about replay value, and there are some jrpgs who only become better on multiple playthroughs (Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, etc).

That said, VN 'replayability' is based entirely on the reader.  Some people can reread books and get more out of them the second and third times.  Some people can't.  I am the former and my mother is the latter.  For me, having a standing library of my favorite books and video games is a matter of course, but for some people, it is common sense to sell all books back to a used bookstore once they are done with them.  Individual paths don't really count as replay value, since it is usually assumed that the reader will 'get them all' as a matter of course. 

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On 2017-5-27 at 11:08 PM, Tatanka82 said:

Max out all stats, secret boss find hidden things you didn't see in your first playthrough and so on :)

That's not really the point - not the point of the game, not the point of the question. You've taken my bait!

See, "replayability" doesn't exist. It's a trick. It's a god made of smoke, it's an illusion. At best, It's a game design trend.

"Replay value" indicates "elements that invite you to play a game after you've finished it", but then again, the notion of "when you've finished it" is established by the game in the first place. A game's main challenge is determined by the game - anything that is conjured by the player can't be measured or evaluated. It's not "replay value". You can make a speedrun out of anything.

The worst thing about this buzzword is the idea that games must have it to make a game's content worth the money you spend on it. The only difference between a secret area being "replay value" or not is the game requiring you to find it in order to get a "thank you for playing" message or not. In terms of "content", there is no difference at all. I understand the idea that giving the player discretionary space to judge and make up their own objectives is beneficial to the experience as a whole, but it is what it is - an illusion. A mere tool in one out of a thousand schools of game design.

So claiming a game not having replay value is a flaw is like claiming a game has a flaw because it doesn't have a HUD or because it isn't an FPS. It's perfectly fine for a game to completely run through the entirey of its course in the first playthrough.

You can go back to any game at any point in time for any reason, including doing the same exact things you've done before. The trick is to separate some of the content and label it as "after playing", but that's a trick. A trick for which I fall everytime, but it makes no sense to diss a game for not doing it, or at least not doing it as much as every other game.

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So actually, this thread really got me thinking about this a lot in relation to Suba Hibi. And I just posted a fairly extensive analytical post on Suba Hibi where one of the key things I address is exactly this. Basically, the VN is structured in such a way, where you are highly encouraged to read it at least 2 times. Furthermore, I avoided any spoilers. Here it is.

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This is really easy for me as I'm known to reply VN's, Games, but also rewatch things a lot. And it is clearly based on one thing, enjoyment factor.

If I enjoyed the story a great deal and it was a good ride that didn't rely on surprise twist factor I will most likely replay it.

Same for games that has its enjoyment in the action or adventure, etc.

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