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Visual novel game ‘Memories’ takes users on interactive journeys

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Mon, February 17, 2020  /  05:31 pm
Visual novel game ‘Memories’ takes users on interactive journeys

A user plays 'Dilan 1990' on a smartphone. The game is available on visual novel app 'Memories'. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

Havilla, a university student in the Central Java city of Semarang, has been interested in visual novel games ever since she was a senior high school student.

“What makes visual novels different from other games is that they let users become part of the story, and they're thoroughly described with narratives and visuals,” Havilla told The Jakarta Post via online message on Feb. 1. “I like to read, but I have a short attention span. A visual novel can be enjoyable reading material without having to read text-heavy books.”

“Sometimes I come for the romance, and I also stay for the plot and overall amazing lessons the game has to offer,” Havilla said.

In Indonesia, Bandung-based software developer Agate is among the leading creators of visual novel games.

In January, Agate teamed up with digital entertainment company CIAYO to release the Memories app.

In 'Dilan 1990', users play as Milea and will be able to determine the character’s actions.In 'Dilan 1990', users play as Milea and will be able to determine the character’s actions. (Memories/File)

Narrated in Indonesian, Memories consists of interactive stories in different fiction genres. Among them are the Dilan 1990 and Dilan 1991 app storylines, inspired by the best-selling novels of Pidi Baiq.

In Dilan 1990, for instance, users will act as Milea, and the game will be narrated from her perspective. The game is based on the first novel, Dilan: Dia adalah Dilanku Tahun, where Milea meets Dilan for the first time. Dilan is known for his particular ways in wooing Milea, and users will be able to determine her reactions to Dilan in the game.

The app also features the storylines based on CoLoN – Magical Showtime, where the user gets to be the manager of Japanese boyband CoLoN:, and Catatan Maya (Maya’s Note), where they have to solve the mystery of a missing person.

All the visual novels stories come with background songs and special sound effects to enhance the user experience. In CoLoN – Magical Showtime, users can even listen to the voices of the boyband's members.

The homepage of game 'Catatan Maya' (Maya's Note), where users can find information on the chapter they are playing or can restart the game.The homepage of game 'Catatan Maya' (Maya's Note), where users can find information on the chapter they are playing or can restart the game. (Memories/File)

In Memories, the user will also receive a daily mission, to be rewarded with “diamonds” that can later be used to continue the story. After finishing one chapter, the user is granted a “key” to move on to the next one. Diamonds and keys can be purchased at prices ranging from Rp 9,000 (66 US cents) to Rp 300,000.

Arief Widhiyasa, CEO of Agate, told the Post via phone that Memories was mainly for teenage girls and above. “We feel there’s a lack of games specifically targeted at girls,” Arief said.

Memories has received a warm welcome since its launch. The app has been downloaded by almost 1 million users and constantly receives four-star ratings on Google Play.

The positive feedback can also be seen in social media accounts set up for the app.

“Once a game is finished, a number of fans will ask us to come up with a sequence,” Arief said, adding that the favorite genres were romance and horror.

So far, Agate has produced all the games on the Memories visual novel app, but they also provide opportunities for other authors to create a story-games for the app through online competitions announced on Instagram.

To what degree the authors could be involved in the game production depended on their capabilities, Arief explained.

“For visual novels, authors are required to have a character bible, which describes the characters, how they are dressed and what their favorite items are,” he said.  

Memories also features chat fiction games (chat novel) that involve users as the main characters. The games are narrated in a form of online chat platform, enabling users to have a “direct conversation” with other characters. Similar to visual novel games, chat fiction games come with background songs and sound effects.

The 'Married a Stranger' chat fiction game is also referred to as a 'chat-novel'.The 'Married a Stranger' chat fiction game is also referred to as a 'chat-novel'. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Arief said the enthusiasm for chat fiction games was high. “Chat novel can be a platform to practice writing. Visual novel usually has a narrative and monologue, while in chat novel, everything is dialogue-driven,” he said.

One of the chat fiction games in Memories is Married a Stranger, where users enter an arranged marriage in order to reach their dream in a publishing company.

Annisa Nur Alida, author of Married a Stranger, said she spent about two months creating the game’s storyline. She had to submit 50 log line premises that would be grouped into five premises.

“Those premises were later developed and we had to look for the best one that could be made into chat novel,” Annisa told The Post via e-mail. “I created a mini outline as the basis of the story afterward and began to write the whole story.”

Regarding the character design, she provided each character’s personality, and the editor then searched for visuals and background songs to match the story.

Screenshot from 'Married a Stranger'Screenshot from 'Married a Stranger' (Memories/File)

Annisa, who also writes stories on online story platform Wattpad, said the users’ positive response to the game took her by surprise.

“They sent messages to Memories’ Instagram account and asked for the game to keep going. They also commented that they had gained a positive view on marriage through playing the game,” she said.

Wilona Fayola, a university student in Pekanbaru, Riau, is one of those who enjoyed Married a Stranger for its sweet storyline.

“It’s a game for stress relief,” Wilona said, adding that she wished the game would add sound effects for the characters' emotions.

“Hopefully, the app will also be improved, so the characters will be able to change their outfits,” she said.

Memories is available for on Google Play and will soon come to the Apple’s App Store. (wng)