Romance, Hold the Choices

Here’s a Homer in Silicon on Don’t Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain’t Your StoryChristine Love’s follow-on (of sorts) to Digital: A Love Story. I had various issues with it, which I discuss in the article, but overall I did like it, especially for the vivid characterization of the anime-obsessed teens. (Also, Love manages to do things with Ren’Py that I wouldn’t have guessed possible and that make it feel much less static than the average visual novel.)

Added bonus: Dirolab has some thoughts on the piece also.

11 thoughts on “Romance, Hold the Choices”

  1. I haven’t finished the game yet, so I can’t read your article, but there’s one thing that’s bothering me pretty hard. (Rot13ed for extreme spoilerage.)

    Va zl tnzr Vfnoryyn pbzzvggrq fhvpvqr nsgre fraqvat Nevnaan na r-znvy gung fur jnf pbafvqrevat vg naq cbfgvat n Tbbqolr Pehry Jbeyq gb ure jnyy. Guvf znl unir orra orpnhfr V fperjrq hc jvgu zl pubvprf (gubhtu gur puncgre’f bcravat grkg znxrf zr guvax vg zvtug unir orra varivgnoyr), ohg gur pubvprf frrzrq ernyyl vanqrdhngr — abg whfg orpnhfr V nf gur cynlre jnag gb qb fbzrguvat gung gur fbzrjung jvguqenja ncngurgvp CP zvtug abg, ohg orpnhfr va n fvghngvba yvxr gung nal grnpure jbhyq or rkcrpgrq gb qebc rirelguvat naq trg gung fghqrag cebsrffvbany uryc. Vzzrqvngryl. Guvf vf abg n tenl nern ng nyy.

    V pbhyq vzntvar gung va fbzr shghevfgvp fbpvrgvrf gurer zvtug or fbzr zber gnobb ntnvafg ernpgvat gb n fghqrag’f cevingr zrffntrf guvf jnl, ohg pyrneyl abg va guvf jbeyq. Jul qbrf gur fpubby tvir zr npprff gb gurve cevingr pbzzhavpngvbaf vs abg gb qb fbzrguvat nobhg guvf?

    V pna fhfcraq qvforyvrs nobhg guvf, naq V pna nyfb frr vg nf n fglyvmngvba bs thvyg bire zvffvat yrff boivbhf fvtaf — naq nyfb V znl or pbzcynvavat urer orpnhfr ;_; — ohg V sbhaq vg xvaq bs wneevat. Xvaq bs frrzrq yvxr gur CP vf sbeprq gb or jnl gbb zhpu bs na vqvbg gurer.

  2. Pretty good article, I’d say; I basically agree with everything you said.

    The one thing that struck me about this game was that it seemed to be set up to problematize privacy and the decisions about it…then ultimately none of that actually mattered. In fact, you’re explicitly told that trying to solve the “problems” in the game, at least what I saw as the problems in the game, is completely pointless.

  3. ‘k, so I finally finished and read your column, and we agree about what I was talking about above. (I had failed to read my private e-mail, which illuminated things a little more but didn’t make it more plausible. I also didn’t figure it out before getting bonked on the head with it, oops.)

    I was thinking about how this would work in parser-driven IF, and… it basically wouldn’t, at all, I think. At the critical moment there was the standard “I should read 12chan” prompt, as there was after almost every school day, and I kept clicking on the dialogue window instead of opening AmieConnect, even after a couple messages that indicated that I had to dawdle before I could go to my office. In parser IF the player would have the option of trying to leave the room at any given time, and though the author could block it, I think actually writing that code would throw the problem into relief. Certainly if the game didn’t respond to a command to leave it would be an even bigger problem for suspension of disbelief than if it didn’t respond to me clicking on the dialogue window instead of the 12chan button.

    SPOILERS FOR CHAPTER 1 AHEAD.

    I didn’t have much of a problem with your inability to handle Arianna better. There it’s part of the characterization of the PC that he won’t have the sense or will to avoid an awkward situation; the sensible choice may be to walk home in the rain, but it’s not the player who’s getting wet, so dumping the PC right into that situation without giving him the chance to make a choice seems like a good simulation of his weakness of the will. (I can’t refrain from typing “Wet bus stop/she’s waiting/his car is warm and dry.”) Rameses comes to mind in both of these cases — it can get away with disallowing most of your actions because nothing is as momentous-seeming as in the other situation, and I think it makes its PC more unsympathetic by seeming to offer good choices and saying “Yeah, I wouldn’t do that” than by just not offering the choice.

    All this said, I liked this a lot, mostly because of the verve of the characterization and writing. I laughed out loud at several points, especially at the conversation that starts with “weeaboo.” And a character with my name! Yay!

    1. “If you’ve played Digital: A Love Story, this game checks the savefile for that and pulls your last name from it.”

      Ahahahaha! Actually, it did seem kind of weird that they would use my name, which is a total joke word.

    2. Yeah, agreed about the characters. Overall this wasn’t as unimpeachably constructed as “Digital,” but it was appealing in other ways that that piece never really touched. I really liked Kendall especially.

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