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Alcyone: The Last City

A sci-fi interactive fiction game set in the last City in the universe. · By Joshua Meadows

There is a name for your creation's genre already.

A topic by Maxime Martyr created 88 days ago Views: 85 Replies: 6
Viewing posts 1 to 3
(1 edit)

"Alcyone: The Last City (pronounced Al-Sigh-O-Knee!) is a sci-fi interactive fiction game set in the last City in the universe. What's "interactive fiction?" It's sort of if you combine a novel and a video game into one — you choose the direction that the story takes and your choices heavily impact the plot, characters, and its ending."

There is a name for what you describe already.

If you think of it as a mix of a novel and a game and the "game" part is merely choosing the direction that the story takes, then Alcyone: The Last City is a visual novel.

So just call it a visual novel and most of people will understand what it is.

Though, not everyone is accustomed to visual novels so you might want to explain in your description:

"Alcyone: The Last City (pronounced Al-Sigh-O-Knee!) is a sci-fi visual novel set in the last City in the universe. What's a"visual novel"? It's sort of a novel whose you choose the direction that the story takes and your choices heavily impact the plot, characters, and its ending."

And that's it, all simple, ready to go. ;-)

Also, you might want to replace "player" with "reader" to be accurate as it is not a game, it is a novel, a visual novel to be accurate.  ;-)

Hi, that's a really interesting point you've raised. "Interactive fiction" is a well-established term, whose use in English-language gaming probably predates "visual novel". (And more people probably called the interactive fiction games "text adventures" anyhow.) 

But nowadays it probably is a bit obscure. (And I say this as someone who loves the genre.) Calling Alcyone a visual novel might be more widely understood. Food for thought! 

Hi, this is the point, this is not "gaming" as there is no gameplay, there is only reading and choosing.

Are you familiar with these material books which ask you to make choices and send you to a specific page to continue your adventure according to your choices? They are called "books whose you are the heroes" or something like that, do you know them? Would you call them "games"?

Well, visual novels are the same exact thing but more technological.

Their technology doesn't make them games though, they remain novels no matter what.

A game needs gameplay, merely reading and choosing is not enough to make a game.

Also, if you browse creations on Itch, you will find out that many creations are categorized as visual novels, meaning that this is a genre of creations pretty well known and used on Itch, which means that Itch users may identify Alcyone: The Last City easilier if it was categorized as a visual novel, which it is from the creator's description.

Reading the description that they wrote for their creation, they struggled for making clear what kind of creation it is and they came up with the description that I quoted above.

Which made me think that the creator might not be familiar with the concept of visual novel and that I might tell them about it to make their life easier and the description clearer. :-)

Although I also suggested to explain what is a visual novel for people who, like the creator, are not accustomed with visual novels yet, to make sure that everyone gets the idea. :-)

Developer

Hey Maxime, thanks for the post. I'm actually a big fan of visual novels and have done writing work on many in the past, so they're definitely something I'm familiar with. :) I wouldn't really agree that this should be categorised as such, since the visual part of Alcyone is more secondary to the game, but it's a tricky, subjective thing to nail down. Failbetter calls their genre "quality-based choice games" but I don't think that really helps people out much either unfortunately!

I'd consider visual novels to be games, as well as interactive fiction, and I don't really gatekeep on what level of gameplay a game must have to be considered such. It feels a bit counterproductive and starts getting into "real gamers" territory, which is something I've always been averse to.

Either way, I hope you've enjoyed the game! :)

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Hey creator, thanks for answering to me. :-)

To be honest, I didn't experiment your creation yet because I wanted a RPG for Linux and you categorized your creation a RPG, which drew me here.

I read the description that you made for your creation and upon readind it, I recognized the description of a visual novel, which made me think of Alcyone: The Last City as a visual novel.

So I wondered why you didn't call Alcyone a visual novel whereas you totally described it as a visual novel and I thought that you might not be familiar with the concept of visual novel and that would be the reason why you described your creation as a visual novel and didn't call it a visual novel.

So I thought I might tell you about this.

My comment is entirely based on your description.

After your reply, I watched your video in order to see how Alcyone is experimented exactly.

I didn't see much as you don't show a demonstration of Alcyone but I want to acknowledge that you chose to use Vimeo and not YouTube.

I don't know if you made this choice because you are aware of the threat that Google is for Internet or not but I am always pleased to meet people who are not dependent on Google. :-)

Anyway, in order to check what exactly is Alcyone, I downloaded the demo and I experimented it by myself.

I have some questions about Alcyone.

Why are there graphical artifacts in the texts?

When you are asked your gender, you have choice between woman, man, androgyne or none.

When you present androgyne as a third gender, do you mean hermaphrodite? Do you mean people who have both male and female genitals? Or do you mean on a cultural level, people who have the mind and heart of both cultural genders?

Because I always try to make my characters the closest possible of how I really am and here I don't know what gender to choose because I don't know what exactly you mean with androgyne.

If you mean hermaphrodite, a person who has both genitals, then this is not me.

But if you mean a person who stands between the two genders on a cultural level then I am androgyne.

Then I'll go with androgyne for now and if I happen to discover that my character has a vagina, I'm going to start again  because this will not be me. :-3

Oh shit! I just came to realization that it is obvious that you meant hermaphrodite!

Because you didn't propose to choose an androgyne man or an androgyne woman and you cannot know if the player is a man or a woman so you cannot know if you are supposed to make the player experiment Alcyone as an androgyne man or as an androgyne woman so it becomes logically obvious that you meant hermaphrodite.

Then may I suggest you to rename "androgyne" as "hermaphrodite" to disrupt the confusion?

And now, I need to start again and choose a man now that I understood that I didn't choose the right gender for me.

But before that, yes, I said "the player" because now that I experiment Alcyone, I can tell that this is a game, not a visual novel.

First, this definitely is not a visual novel because there is not much visual at all in it.

You said that visual was secondary, but it could have been that you put more emphasize on the writing and less on the visuals, which would still make it a visual novel.

But to say "the visual is secondary" is an understatement because actually, there is almost no visual at all in Alcyone, there is no background picture, no characters assets, there are barely scarce pictures here and there, Alcyone is really all about text.

So it is more of a text adventure game like Zork than a visual novel.

But there is more to it.

It is also a RPG, but not in the usual way it is meant in video games, more like a table RPG where players physically reunite around a table with a game master and the game master presents them a setting, some situations and events and the players imagine how to react to them then the game master imagines how to react to the players ' actions and so they progressively develop their own story together.

Alcyone feels like that. It reminds me of the experience of a table RPG, I can feel the presence of the game master who describes me the setting of the game and the events occuring to me and asking me how I react to them then telling me the consequences of my choices. :-3

So this is definitely a RPG, in the most traditional way a RPG can be. :-)

There are even character's attributes evolving according to the player's choices, each choice improves one or another attribute and there is an inventory system.

You were right, Alcyone: The Last City is indeed a RPG mixed with a text adventure game.

However the description doesn't feel like a RPG at all, it really feels like a visual novel, as I stated, I had to experiment the demo in order to get the right idea of what exactly is Alcyone: The Last City.

Then may I suggest you a new suggestion to give an idea more accurate to people about what Alcyone is?

How about something like:

"Alcyone: The Last City (pronounced Al-Sigh-O-Knee!) is a traditional RPG/text adventure game set in the last City in the universe. What's a"traditional RPG?" Did you ever play a RPG where you physically reunited with other players and a game master around a table and you lived your own adventures together with the sole limit being the limit of your imagination? No external graphics, no external visuals, every character, every surrounding, every situation generated inside your own imagination. Let me introduce myself, I am Joshua Meadows and I am Alcyone: The Last City's game master. I will make you live a story, in which I will make you choose how to act, and your choices will heavily impact the story, the effetcs on the characters who are involved in it, and the conclusion you will reach."

How do you like this description? I think it would give a more accurate idea to people of what Alcyone is, don't you agree? ;-)

Oh, no, not this endless pointless debate about "visual novels are not games/visual novels are games" again, I have had enough of those already! T_T

Why do you want to consider visual novels as games? Why wouldn't you accept that they are...visual novels and be happy with it?

This is not even about the level of gameplay, visual novels have no gameplay at all, not even in the slightest bit.

If you consider reading texts, watching pictures and making choices a gameplay, even a low-level gameplay, then you would have to consider books which ask you to make choices and to go to a specific page in order to continue the story according to your choice games as well, which would be utterly nonsense, I never met anyone who lacked common sense to the point to consider a book a game.

And this is what visual novels are, immaterial books with texts, pictures and choices and nothing else.

Well, there might be something else, musics, sound effects, voices acting, but still, none of this makes for a gameplay in the slightest bit, this is all for the atmosphere, not for the interactions.

I am not pretending that everyone should see things from my point of view, I am saying "Just call a cat, a cat, and a dog, a dog, call a game, a game, and a visual novel, a visual novel.", there is no point in debatting if visual novels are games or not if there is not a single speck of gameplay in a visual novel.

Something which is counterproductive is to confuse people by miscalling things.

We need to be accurate in the way we call things in order to allow everyone to have an accurate understanding of what we talk about, this is why we have invented so many words to begin with, to allow accuracy.

I don't consider myself "a real gamer", I don't consider myself as "more real" than any other gamer, but I am a gamer, I am into video games almost since I was born, and I almost live for video games, so I don't like it when people call anything "a game" without respect for what a game actually is.

And I love visual novels, too, but I consider them as what they actually are, visual novels.

I merely call a cat, a cat, and a dog, a dog, and I would like that everyone was accurate as well.

I also don't like the elitist behaviors that you talk about.

For example, I don't like when hardcore gamers treat casual gamers like "not real gamers", I always say "casual gamers might become hardcore gamers if you share your passion with them instead of rejecting them, what impression do you think that you give to them about gamers with your useless elitist behavior?".

Yes, I am enjoying the demo. :-)

Even if I now need to start over because you were not accurate with the hermaphrodite gender, you confused me by calling it androgyne, see, the necessity to be accurate? ;-3

Developer (1 edit)

Thanks, Maxime; am I guessing correctly that English isn't your first language? Maybe this is a bit of a translation issue. :)

The gender choices were developed after speaking with a bunch of transgender, non-binary, and intersex writers, game devs, and players to try and give a good balance of choices for everyone to pick from. Androgyne in the game is closer to non-binary, whereas "hermaphrodite" is considered an outdated and potentially offensive term. The gender choice, ultimately, has little material impact on the game itself and is just to give players more representation to enjoy the game however they wish.


As far as what the game itself is, I think if I call it an RPG people might be expecting something like Zelda or Diablo, and I don't want to give anyone the wrong idea. You pointed out that there's not much gameplay in the video — that was the Kickstarter pitch (I'm working on a proper trailer at the moment!) so it's slightly different, but it's difficult to put a text-based game into a video format unfortunately. I'm working on it, though! It's closer to an RPG than a visual novel, I think, but it's not quite either. I don't mind what people want to call it as long as they enjoy it, though. :)


Why are there graphical artifacts in the texts?

I'm not sure what you mean here, could you possibly send me a screenshot of what's happening? That's not been a bug that other people have reported so I'll see what I can do. If you can't attach it in an itch message, you can email joshua at alcyonegame dot com instead.

Indeed, my original language is not english.

Ah, indeed, "A hermaphrodite is an organism that possesses both male and female reproductive organs during its life. For human hermaphrodites, see intersex.".

Indeed, in english, the word "hermaphrodite" is for "organisms" while the word for human hermaphrodites  is "intersex" so now I understand why humans are offended by the word "hermaphrodite".

In french, the word "hermaphrodite" is for any being that possesses both male and female genitals and there is nothing wrong with using this word for humans, it is not pejorative.

What? But you do call it a RPG, remember I explained you what drew me here, I was looking for a RPG for Linux in the Itch app and your game was categorized as a RPG, check it, type "Alcyone" in Itch browser and see what genre Alcyone is labelled at.

And this is why I suggested you a description to make sure that everyone knows what to expect.

People will come here expecting a RPG and upon reading the description, they will get an accurate idea of what kind of RPG Alcyone is exactly.

That is, if you make your description more accurate, as I suggested.

What do you think is the point of descriptions?

A game genre alone is not enough to get an accurate idea of how a game is, this is why we write descriptions and the more accurate the description is, the more accurately people will picture the game.

This is why your current description fails to fulfill its purpose, I totally thought that Alcyone was a visual novel upon reading your description, you description sent me far away from the truth, if I didn't suggest you to call it a visual novel and you didn't answer me it isn't a visual novel, I would have gone away, I wouldn't have experimented it myself in order to get an accurate idea of what exactly it is, and people will not do as I did, they will read your description, be mistaken, and go away without knowing what Alcyone actually is.

About the trailer, how about you show a recording of the demo from start to end? :-)

Check your e-mails. ;-)