The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#46 Post by Funnyguts » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:09 pm

Living through Disaster:
Synopsis: A girl named Genevieve is in the hospital for a terminal disease. She considers herself unexceptional and is frustrated because she's going to die before she gets a chance to do anything. She makes an absentminded wish that she could die in a disaster so she can at least have an interesting death, which causes Disaster Girl to fall from the sky! The Spirit of Disaster now tries to make Genevieve's impending death more interesting, but now that Gen is faced with the issue she isn't actually excited about dying. Spirit tries a couple things to kill off Gen, but they don't work and Gen just gets annoyed. Spirit moves on to ruining Gen's date. Gen points out that she's not in a situation to care about dates because she's dying, and reveals that everyone she's ever known is still alive and she has to go through death on her own. Later a couple of burglars break into Gen's house, but Gen snaps and frightens them away with her craziness.
Gen runs into the Spirit again, and yells at her to let her die eventually, in peace. Then Gen accepts that even though she might die she's still alive now, and that's what matters. Gen then talks about what she learned from each incident, and hopes that people remember that she lived.

Characters: Genevieve is sarcastic and bitter, and refused to do anything because she feels it's pointless. The Spirit is cheery and always trying to help in her own little way. The two had good chemistry and connected well with each other, and it's hard to imagine Geniveve changing for the better without Spirit. The bit characters also had decent personalities, particularly the date, who was just fun to watch deal with Genevieve's disillusionment.

Things that stuck: Some of Genevieve's quips ("I'm allergic to fire, it makes my skin go all red") were great. There wasn't much to differentiate this version of Disaster Girl from the rest, though.

Technical presentations: Worked a bit with Ren'py's code to shake and flash the screen when appropriate, but there wasn't a lot of super-exciting programming going on. There were a few grammar errors, mostly missing words.

Limitations: The writer added additional characters, which meant that when Disaster Girl wasn't on screen we were left staring at a background and some ADV text instead of anything interesting.

Uniqueness: Due to the luck of the draw I played this immediately after "Meaning", which had a very similar theme and message. But this one was a lot stronger than "Meaning" in pretty much every way. It had strong flow, good characters, and interesting word choice.

Themes: Live your life to the fullest. Specifically, knowing that you're going to die should have no bearing on the fact that you will live.

Overall: A strong entry. Not my favorite, especially after my second read, but definitely within the top ten. I'm not really sure what it is I'd change about it, other than fixing some of the grammar errors.
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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#47 Post by Anarchy » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:57 pm

Ariana

(I'm writing this as I play, so forgive any disjointedness.)

The very first time I played through this, I made choices that I would personally make in that situation. Needless to say, Clara died almost instantly. I mean, why on earth would I want to take a strange person like that back to my dorm room!? For all Clara knows, she could be just some random cosplayer who just got drunk and passed out in the middle of the woods. I would've loved an option that had Clara calling campus security, because that's what any regular person would do in that situation, I think, but in lieu of that, leaving her alone was the closest thing to how I would react. And of course the game punished me horribly for not choosing the option that would forward the plot. Normally, I'm not a fan of these kind of premature game-overs, because it feels like you're dressing up a linear story in the clothes of a non-linear game, but I think this worked just because of how hilarious it was when Clara basically just killed herself with her own ineptness.

After that I went back and chose the PLOT~ option. I enjoyed the way the sprite just opened her eyes suddenly and everybody just jumped - it was quite effective. Maybe consider putting a shaking effect there to show that the protagonist is being startled? (I don't know, maybe I've just played too many Phoenix Wright games lately where everything shakes at the slightest provocation...)

...is she flirting with Clara? She's totally flirting with Clara. Pssh.

Okay, I think Madison is jumping to conclusions here. Just because a girl has cat ears doesn't necessarily mean she has weird powers. They could be accessories for all she knows. I think this is a case of the author knowing that the spirit is supernatural and the setting is supernatural, and letting that genre-savvy influence her characters. There's no evidence that magic or whatever exists in this setting, so I think both of them shouldn't have jumped so quickly to the idea that they're dealing with something supernatural here.

...Why does the spirit want to stay with Clara and Madison anyway? I understand that she needs to be there for plot purposes, but I'd like to see at least some kind of explanation for why she wants to stay there. Probably will be explained as the story progresses, but protagonist accepts that fact way too easily. Like, she doesn't think there's anything strange about the fact that the girl wants to stay with her. Why isn't she asking about the stranger's friends, family, where she lives, etc? What made Clara decide that this girl is her responsibility now?

Inexplicable bad grades. Spirit of disaster. Of course.

Still flirting with Clara. Uh oh. Clara, you need to stop this blushing shit if you don't want your entire academic career to be ruined.

I chose go out because I don't see why it's bad for her to be seen. (I guess Clara would feel embarrassed about being seen by somebody "weird", but personally I was like, whatever, you're not my problem anyway. It's great though, that the choices are reflecting the protagonist's personality.) And I see I'm starting to go down the yuri route. I don't see why - I mean, I have the impression that "date" can refer to outings between friends as well, but judging from Clara's reaction...

Oh. She was thrown out. Eerie music incoming. This isn't leading anywhere good.

Butterfly effect eh? *intrigued*

If she was on a mission to spread little disasters, then why was she "thrown out"? That implies that she did something bad. Does have a stronger impact though, so I don't mind the word chocie.

Cookie toasting. Cute.

Clara is totally falling for her. STOP IT CLARA THAT GIRL WILL LEAD TO NOTHING BUT DISASTER I MEAN LITERALLY

Embarassed Clara is moe. Did not send the spirit away because COME ON Clara is totally crushing on her. I'm not about to crush a little kitty-lover's dreams.

...what? The hell? Testing? And then punishing people who react normally to somebody who's deliberately being a huge jerk to them without any reasonable reason at all? What the hell!? What exactly is the point of this test? To reward masochists or something?

I feel like the author had certain scenes, emotions, and interactions that they wanted to convey, but didn't build up a plot/backstory/character motivation that fully-justified those scenes. It felt like they wanted to write a cute fluffy yuri slife-of-life romance, but the fantastical premise just kept getting in the way. I do think that the interactions between Clara and the spirit were the most successful parts of the VN, and the whole thing would have worked beautifully even without the supernatural element. I would have either liked to see this VN either take a non-supernatural direction, or integrate the supernatural parts more logically and smoothly into the story.

So, I guess I got ending 4. That last scene with Madison... I'm wondering if that was necessary? In a way, having an epilogue of sorts helps with deal with the aftermath of the spirit's departure, but then again, the upbeat music and the messy dorm room kind of took the emotional edge off the parting scene. Maybe it should've just ended in the forest.

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#48 Post by Anarchy » Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:14 pm

Meaning

I don't feel like I have the right to say this, seeing as I just hastily threw my own entry up minutes before the deadline without even proofreading it, but... this entry needs a bit more proofreading, especially in the beginning. I didn't have a good first impression of it because of some missing punctuation and stuff like that.

The "-chan" suffix seems arbitrary. Since her name is Melissa, I got the impression that this isn't Japan. I feel that the author should've given protag-chan a Japanese name if they wanted to use that particular honorific. It fits because the sprite itself is wearing some a kimono, implying that the spirit is either Japanese or was a huge Japan/anime fan. Given that she was, what, five when she died? I think the latter is rather unlikely.

And again, I've run into what seems to be a running trend among these entries (out of the grand total of two I've reviewed so far). Why is the protagonist so hasty to take some random strange girl back to their house just because the girl said so? There's no reason for it except to advance the plot. I'd like to see more motivation for this particular choice. The whole conversation felt like an info-dump, like the author was just trying to get the character introductions out of the way. I'd like to see the conversation develop more naturally than that.

It's implied that only protag-chan can see the ears and mobile, but since the spirit just came into the world to see the sun again, instead of going there just for Melissa, this doesn't make sense. But the mom just ignoring the spirit's weird look doesn't make sense either.

In general, I thought that Melissa's personality could be fleshed out a little more. We know that she doesn't think life has any meaning, but we don't get what happened to make her think that way. It felt like the whole concept of "the meaning of life" was being painted in really broad, vague strokes, which left me unable to really connect to Melissa because she didn't feel quite real to me. In a story where the whole point is to break her out of that way of thinking, I felt like there needed to be more elaboration of why she was thinking that way in the first place, instead of just having her repeat variations on "life is short, and then you die" again and again. For something titled "Meaning", there needed to be more meaning to the characters' interactions and personalities.

As an extension of that two-dimensional characterization, the last development in Melissa's character wasn't very convincing. It seemed like she just magically changed her mind after... absolutely nothing. The ghost's sob story didn't feel like it had much relevance to Melissa's philosophy - if anything, the girl's short and pointless life would seem to me to reinforce her belief that life is ultimately meaningless. A complete change in personality like that doesn't come so easily or quickly - especially something as drastic as this - and I wish that the author had worked harder to make that character development make sense.
Last edited by Anarchy on Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#49 Post by fioricca » Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:26 pm

I just finished For Stellie! Absolutely adorable story about wishing, and shooting stars. The expressions and writing clearly conveyed the personality of the pessimist MC and the optimist shooting star girl, and how those two personalities collide to share a special moment. So cute ;w;

/goes to play more so I can make better comparisons

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#50 Post by Anarchy » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:05 pm

Lady Misfortune

I think the whole opening dream sequence needs to be heavily edited or even removed entirely. It's too much summary and the protagonist telling us how they feel instead of *sigh* showing how they feel. (Yeah, I know, old adage is old.) It tries to set a foreboding tone, but it's way too obvious about it. I like foreshadowing to be a little more subtle.

The first scene with the girl is a good place to start the story - it gets the reader going "What?! Why is a freak girl in his room? Whaaat?" (love the "Freak Girl" title, by the way). Though I would like some kind of musical pause or transition when the story flashes back to the day before.

Gahahaha I love the "walk the hair" bit. I genuinely laughed out loud. The quality of the story really picks up once there's somebody for the protagonist to banter with.

I also love how the so-called "Harbinger of Doom" has a completely mundane name like Mallory.

I think it's completely arbitrary to have her only be able to reveal her identity to the first person she meets. It's like, crud, I need to find a way to have the spirit interact with just my protagonist. I know, I'll just impose some random rule to force them to do so!

Gahaha I love the mention of Necomimi ears, "kids and their Japanese anime stuff", and LARPing. It's great that the author is acknowledging the anime and cosplay culture that is inextricably linked to the design of the sprite, instead of just ignoring it completely.

Love the snarky protagonist. I snorted at "magnets" XD

Heehee. "What reasonable person would want you around them if you're going to do bad things?" This is exactly what I meant in my previous reviews. It just doesn't make sense for reasonable people to bring random strangers back to their places and let them stay there, let alone a "spirit of disaster". Though eventually she stays with him anyway. I do appreciate the nod to reason though, it really, really helps suspension of disbelief. Even though I'm surprised all three I've looked at so far went the "take this spirit home with me" route, this was the first that made me feel the move was really justified. Just something as simple as the spirit "but I have nowhere else to gooo" plus pouty eyes combo is more than enough to justify the omochikaeri-ing.

She was glad all those people got buried in lava? Just so she could leave? Man, I don't think I like this Mallory character anymore. At least the protagonist recognizes how freaky that is.

Bwahaha. Why all this obsession about where the spirit sleeps? I remember it was even a player choice in Ariana. I like the way this VN handles it better though - at least there's some banter and argument about who's going to sleep where. The mild conflict really helps to keep me engaged.

And oh, now I'm getting flashbacks to Suzumiya Haruhi.

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Kinsoku jikou desu <3

I don't get the point of all this secrecy. If her superiors think that people should have some kind of warning, why limit her to revealing her identity to one person? And why does she want to spend time faffing about with some random guy instead of, you know, doing the whole "warning people" thing she's supposed to do?

Loving the sarcastic protag-kun <3

Protag-kun, I don't love you anymore. Make up an excuse, anything! Invite them over for a sleepover, fake an emergency, whatever - just get your family and friends out of that place! Even if you have to hire people to beat them up and put them to sleep and then kidnap them to wherever is safe, just do whatever you need to freaking do. Stop being so passive, goddamnit.

Of course he's not all right, Mallory! His family's gonna die!

I should think Mallory's lack of empathy would be the least of your concerns right now, Alex. She's a goddamn spirit of disaster, who cares if she has empathy for humans or not? Aren't you more worried about your loved ones and how she might be able to help you save them? My suspension of disbelief... it's crumbling... It feels like the author is more interested in exploring the relationship between the spirit and protag-kun, and especially the spirit's characterization, and those ARE interesting things to explore indeed, but because of the dramatic turn the story took, it seems to make the interactions ring a bit hollow now... like, why are you faffing about with a girl when you know your family is probably going to die at any time?

Eurgh... don't like these choices. It feels like I'm being pushed towards the "They matter" choices, like that's the right thing to do, instead of it being a genuine "moral" choice? The second one is way too wishy washy for my tastes. I see your point, great, but why is there a "but" there? It just feels like a weak version of the first choice. In any case, I chose the first option. I like decisive protagonists.

"Kind of" weird? Seriously?

Why does a spirit of disaster care about "spending time together" with some random stranger? Sure, he was kind to her, but still. And why isn't the protag-kun warning the astroscientists that an asteroid is coming. He could've done some actual research and tried to fake an observation or whatever instead of just wandering about randomly. What's that going to achieve?

Oh what is this crap. There is such a thing called "organized evacuation", you know. If the scientists already know about it, they would at least let the city mayor know or something, and they would definitely try to evacuate the city. It's better than just letting those people sit there and die.

I'm finding it hard to care about Mallory and her tragic past and her sad clingy-ness at this point. The impending asteroid is distracting me.

"An interesting weekend"? You just found out that your entire hometown is about to get wiped out by a freaking rock from space, and that's all you can say about your weekend? WTF, protag-kun?!

Also there's an error during the scene where he wakes up and finds out she's gone. It says "Mallory" instead of "Alex" and for a moment I thought she was still there, haha.

Durr, what? I'm confused. The timeline is confusing me. He knew the asteroid was going to land yesterday and he didn't even call his friends and family back home to at least have a final chat with them or something? Instead, he spent time with some girl he just met two days ago? And why is he so sure that Mallory was the one who saved the city from destruction? Durr??

And of course he meets her again at the landing site. Of course.

...bwahaha. Loved that spirit pun. Heh.

She's going to get punished for interfering? Well, good for her!

"I ate by the same window." Dawww, protag-kun.

Yay I got the good end!

Overall this felt more realistic and grounded than the previous two entries I reviewed, but I still think there was still the feeling of conflict between an author who was more interested in spirit-protag interaction and couldn't quite balance that out with the more serious supernatural elements. I liked the protag's voice though, and there was a fair bit of humor that I enjoyed.

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#51 Post by Anarchy » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:50 pm

Umbra's Calling

Wow. That... was an abrupt opening. I immediately felt lost, like I'd jumped into the middle of a novel with no context. It's not even in media res, because that's not even a hook, it's just... a random sentence floating in mid-air. Normally I'm a fan of cutting straight to the interesting parts, but there has to be SOMETHING to ground the reader and let them get their bearings before you fly off into awesomeness land.

Ooh, transparent sprite. I like that. Gives it more of a spirit feel.

The choice of second person gives it more of a CYOA feel, but I think there's another thread on these forums that discuss the pros and cons of different POVs, so I won't go into detail here. It's just notable because most other entries use first person.

And we're faced with our first choice almost immediately. It's great to give the player a sense of control right off the bat; helps to draw us in. I chose "Did you see a falling star" because she seemed okay from how the player described her before the choice.

Lots of dialogue options. I like it.

Oh, we get to choose our name, eh? Fits in with the more CYOA tone of this game.

"A tad bit see through?" Heh. Nice snarky line from protag here.

Gah. Info-dump time. Quite unnatural how the protagonist reacts by going "oh, huh, so that's the way the world works? Okay, I guess that must be true then". It's like the author was rushing to get all the pertinent background info out of the way and wanted the protag to resist as little as possible in order to get on with EXCITING PLOT STUFF.

Also, not a fan of how the author is handling the basic premise. I'm here to do stuff because the universe told me to? It's just... doesn't do a lot with the prompt, I feel.

"Why did the universe send me early?" To meet your true wuv Kiwi-kun/chan of course~~~~ <3 (Yeah, I named the protag Kiwi.)

Aaaaaand surprise, surprise, protag-chan takes the spirit back home! Why? I've played four games in a row and every. one. of. them. does this. Why?! What's the reason? The justification? Why this need to bring a suspicious-looking spirit back to your home? The spirit is even reluctant to follow protag back home, but s/he just does it anyway. Gah.

I like the sprite sliding in from the left, by the way. Really gives it a sense of movement.

I'm guessing that if I had her go invisible, she'd have no power left to finish her calling tomorrow? Heh. I chose the act natural option, people in the city generally mind their own business anyway.

This really is a CYOA where you get to design your own character, huh? I just wonder how much relevance these choices will have. Sometimes having a set character works better than giving people the illusion of choice, but don't give them enough breadth of choice. Like, for example, giving them a lot of choices will just make people want even more choices, because you've given them the idea that they're free to choose, but not giving them choices at all helps them sink into the character easier? On the other hand, you could say that even if these character background choices are just cosmetic, it might help you feel closer to the character as well. I personally could identify with this character because I do dream of becoming a writer, but what if your player dreams of becoming something else? But then, for example, if you want to be a literature teacher, for example, you still have the "writer" option open to you, and that might be help you feel closer to the character than if you were forced to play as, say, a doctor. /tangent

Well, well, what is this? Spirit counselling time? People seem way too upfront about their feelings and issues. It just seems unnatural how she just tells you her issues. I'd like to see more subtle showing going on than just bashing people about the head with what you want to convey.

I like how the frequency of choices in this game reflects the theme of freedom of choice, but I still think the author is being way too heavy-handed with the message.

And another leading choice. Oh well.

Whoah, this story sure escalated fast. The whole thing was way too fast for my tastes. On the other hand, since the story was generally similar to the other VNs I just played, it was nice to have a short and compact version of what's essentially the same storyline for once.

Why would protag want to see Umbra again? She's just a random spirit. There wasn't even any interesting interactions or connection between protag and spirit.

I like the ending screen with the list of unlockable endings and route summaries. Normally, this would work beautifully in motivating players to replay the game to get all the endings. The fact, however, that each route can be summed up in such a simplistic message just turns me off and the story itself doesn't make me want to play more. The "tell, not show" writing didn't impress me, and the characterization was largely forgettable. In the protag's case, making him an empty vessel for the player just made him bland. I wasn't invested in this VN at all.

I did like the visual effects, as well as the sense of control I had over the story with the multitude of choices. The choice to make this more of a CYOA also helped this VN to stand out a little from other entries. The ending screen was an AWESOME feature; I might have to steal that for myself at some point :P
Last edited by Anarchy on Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#52 Post by papillon » Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:37 pm

There's an error in the entry Dusted Star which is *my* fault, not the author's - I will be uploading a fixed version within the hour. Just letting people know (will update this when done)

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#53 Post by Funnyguts » Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:49 pm

For Stellie:
Synopsis: An English professor is tired of being an English professor. There's this long thing about cold coffee and a professor who's professional life was ruined after spilling some coffee on student papers. The professor sees a shooting star, and it hits the professor's office! The shooting star talks about being a shooting star, but the prof says she's not real. The star claims her name is Stellie, then steals the exams the professor is grading and runs off. The professor chases her, and catches her and acts like a total creep. Stellie then points out that if the professor kills her in rage, that means Stellie really did exist! The prof suddenly calms down, and he decides to spend time with Stellie instead of grading papers. Stellie encourages him to believe in wishes because if wishes didn't happen there's be no spark for goals to come true. Stellie fades into dust because shooting stars don't last very long. The professor is inspired to write the next great English novel.

Characters: The professor seems to go crazy really fast. He was annoyed before, but wow, did he suddenly go murderous out of nowhere. Stellie was kinda cute, but I'm not quite sure what her motivation was. She seemed to suddenly want to help the professor by screwing with him. The professor learned to deal with the situation a bit too quickly, as well. The professor seems to just change moods depending on when it's needed, not when it makes sense.

Things that stuck: It had a nice appearance.

Technical aspects: The use of NVL-mode was well done, but I wish the top of Stellie's head hadn't been cut off. Also, having to click at every single sentence got annoying, especially during dialogue heavy scenes where lines were averaging four words each.

Limitations: The writer kept any characters without sprites either in a first person view or in flashback. This helped somewhat to alleviate the problem of staring at a background while people talked about stuff.

Uniqueness: There's still a lot of 'follow your dreams' message in here, but unlike the previous two I reviewed it focused on how people perceive shooting stars and what they mean to us. It's also one of the few stories where the protagonist is older than a college student.

Themes: If you don't have a wish where will you go? Is the job you're doing worth it?

Overall: Competently written, but kind of weird. Whatever college that professor teaches at sounds absolutely insane. I've had papers with coffee on them before and it didn't ruin the lives of the professors and teachers that handed them back to me. Motivations all seemed underdevloped to me. Not bad, but definitely not my favorite.
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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#54 Post by papillon » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:16 pm

Okay, upload updated with what I hope will fix the entry 'Dusted Star'. Please continue to let me know if you run into problems!

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#55 Post by Carassaurat » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:57 pm

I've played about half of them now. So far, every single one mentions the ears. I'm starting off with some that I don't think require much time to sink in.

My Entry


Which one was that again: the one with the Ponna jokes.

I'm going to have to go with CheeryMoya here, in that I didn't like it either. This isn't the Worst VN/KN competition; and even there, misspellings and intentional typos weren't funny. The only thing there is to this VN is jokes of the intentionally bad and intentionally unprofessional kind. There are, perhaps, two jokes or so that made me chuckle. Not my kind of humour at all, I'm afraid — though I suppose that if this is your kind of humour, My Entry might be the funniest thing ever?

The Final Test


Which one was that again: the stat raising one in which you save the world.

Again one that I'm not particularly fond of. It's a very game-y visual novel; the conversation in the intro works through a menu that's remniscent of Western CRPGs, and the rest of it is conducted through stat-raising. That comes at the cost of characterisation. There are snippets between the protagonist, Trent, and the Spirit of Disaster, but they amount to very little at all; it's banter more than conversation. The menu conversation has a number of options that are a jab at the cat ears, which, unfortunately, is something every entry mentions already, so it's a tired joke. The other options explain the test to come up, and it's unclear why they should be put into a menu, rather than just be made into the continuing body of text. It's hard to get a reading of the characters. Trent doesn't seem to have a particularly outspoken personality, and the Spirit feels disjointed when she can care about pollution and a man dying lonely, but revels in destruction on the other hand. She's wise or a little girl, or something in between, depending on the situation.

I think the idea of having randomised situations and having to interpret and adapt them is actually pretty clever... but I have no idea what's going on here. I haven't been able to fail the game so far; even when I failed all the preliminary tests, I succeeded at the final one because I had focused on just one statistic. I'm hesitant to call it a rough version of a good idea; maybe it's an inspiration for a good idea, though.

As a disclaimer, I dislike stat raisers to the point where I didn't even enjoy the supposed masterpiece RE:Alistair++. I think the author of TFT liked that one a lot.

P.S. I went for Homework instead of Investigate the second time and it still mentions saving the world before Analyse shows up, so that's a bit odd. An oversight?

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#56 Post by OokamiKasumi » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:58 pm

Anniversaries, Adversity, and Pepper

When the story began with merry music and nostalgic description of how the narrator met the Spirit named Pepper, I thought I was reading a "Power of Friendship" story. Then the narrator started to list some rather scary effects of their so-called friendship, and confessed to being fed up with the spirit's presence.

Then this decision point appeared, and I realized that this might not be a power of friendship story at all -- despite the merry music.
ADV_comp_001.jpg
If you take the First choice, the story does indeed proceed as a Power of Friendship tale.
If you take the Second choice, you come to This decision point:
ADV_comp_Pepper002.jpg
If you take the first choice on this one, you get this one:
ADV_comp_Pepper003.jpg
This leads straight into a full-blown horror plot.

I thought the concept was Brilliant; two diametrically opposed plot-lines in one story.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
-- Horror Plot: Must stop Evil spirit.
-- Friendship Plot: Must save my friend.

The execution, however...was draggy.

Too Much Back-story.
-- Paragraph after paragraph of back-story, with little current action. In other words, the story started Too Late. The good news is that this is actually an easy fix. Simply start the story where the story actually began -- when they met, and have the plot-lines divide (the first decision point) when the narrator realizes that Pepper really is cursed to bring misfortune to whoever she's near. This will make all the events listed far more immediate, and shocking as they build in intensity. At the same time, the Moral aspect of wanting to do something terrible to someone sweet and fairly innocent; who really doesn't want to cause the harm her curse is bringing about, will prey on the player's mind.

Next: NAME the Narrator.
-- Other people's mileage may vary, but I am not comfortable with a nameless and/or genderless protagonist, especially one named "Me". In fact the only time I feel comfortable "being" a character in a game is when I am running around loose in a full-on RPG world. This, however, is Not an RPG, it's a Story with characters that have their own thoughts, feelings, and identities. As such, they deserve names that reflect this.

Over-all, I felt the story had a ton of potential. With the right resources, and a bit more practice in avoiding info-dumps of back-story, this could make for a fantastic horror game.
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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#57 Post by Anarchy » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:30 pm

Endless Night

This one began quite abruptly as well.
"It is delightful to see someone again. I am Elaine."

She spoke in English. Her voice was soft but crisp, and sounded entirely natural.
For some reason, the first few sentences work nicely as an opening in pure prose form, feeding little details to the reader so we can slowly build up a picture in our mind about the situation and what is going on. Unfortunately, it's not quite as effective in visual novel form, at least to me. The opening sprite and background gives us a ton of information at once - we get the girl's face and the location - while the narration goes on at a slow drip pace. The effect is rather jarring. It's like, there's a huge rainbow-spotted elephant in the zoo, and the tour guide is taking his time and talking about the monkeys, the penguins, the birds, the lions, until slowly meandering his way back over to the elephant and then finally introducing it, and all the while we poor tourists are standing there, completely gobsmacked by the freaking elephant with rainbow spots and confused out of our minds wondering why the hell is he talking about all that other crap when THERE'S AN ELEPHANT WITH RAINBOW SPOTS. And by elephant with rainbow spots I mean the weird sprite and the background. If that makes any sense at all. *cough*

Anyway, another thing that bothered me: at certain points, the narration switches back and forth from present to past tense. The author should pick one and stick to it.

After the somewhat awkward opening (which would've worked beautifully in pure prose form, believe me - I quite enjoy the relatively descriptive writing, which gives us more details compared to the other entries I've played, which were more focused on dialogue), the story slowly starts getting into its stride. I thought it was strange how she immediately jumped into making small talk with the protagonist, but the weirdness was acknowledged and it was actually relevant to her character motivations (as revealed later on in the game), as opposed to other entries I've played which gave me the impression that the spirit was interested in the protagonist just because s/he is the protagonist and has magic protagonist powers that makes everybody automatically love them. This game doesn't quite escape that pitfall - out of all the people on the planet, this random guy is the only one she chooses to "save", after all, if we make the right choices - but it does make sense, given her character. He just happened to be there, she was lonely, they just happened to make a connection, and so she pops the question. It doesn't matter to her much if an earthling is uploaded to the space net or not - he won't recognize her the next time she meets anyway, and SHE won't remember if she uploaded him or not anyway, since those memories won't be uploaded to her copies - so in the end, it feels very much as if this is the spirit's story, not the protagonist. Or should I say - the spirit is the protagonist, and the narrator is just a peripheral narrator who's there so we can experience the spirit's despair and loneliness.

I didn't have a good first impression of this entry in the beginning, because of the clumsy opening, but by the end, I was quite impressed by the competence of the writing. I love that it's subtle, and the author actually trusts in the reader's intelligence. Plot and characterization details are dribbled slowly but enticingly onto the reader's screen, and I was so intrigued by the hints and the maddeningly obscure revelations in the first ending I got (the third one, I think it was, because I'm rebellious and hate doing what the spirit tells me to do), that I went on and completed the other endings, and then UNLOCKED THE AWESOME AWESOME EPILOGUE. This was the first entry that I actually 100%'ed. The sci-fi aspects interested me, although I do think that the whole idea of AI and consciousness has been explored thoroughly in other VNs (That Cheap and Sacred Thing, for example, also Poupette /shamelesspimping), this was an interesting take on the whole issue of uploaded consciousness and immortality in its own right. Shame the word limit couldn't let the author explore it further, because I caught glimpses of an intriguingly well-developed SF universe that didn't quite get to shine or develop fully in this short but sweet entry.

For me, the highlight of this VN was the epilogue, when we finally got out of that incompetent protag's head and into the spirit's. I loved how the author implied she'd mercy-killed the protag (THIS is how you do characterization, baby!), and how it segue'd from describing the blood on her hands to the blood on her clothes to her nosebleeding from the radiation. It was a slowly burning intensity that nearly got my waterworks going. Unfortunately, I didn't quite connect to her in the beginning because she seemed to me to be your typical cryptic, mysterious woman, and the epilogue was when I really, really started to enjoy her as a character, so I didn't actually start crying. The image of her synthetic body dying away with the last remaining scraps of consciousness that didn't manage to get uploaded? That's pathos, right there. It was really clever how the epilogue worked with all the three different endings as well. Overall, it was a good entry in of itself, and I'd say it's worth reading just for that last beautiful, beautiful scene. It was like a well-steeped cup of tea - slightly bitter, but oh so fragrant and warm and satisfying in the end.

There IS one criticism I have for the writing, though. It's quite competent, but I feel like the author needs to take into account the nature of the VN medium more. It feels like whoever wrote this is more comfortable writing prose. Accordingly, you get scenes like this:

Image

Where the narration is simply describing something that the image is already telling you. The author seemed to treat the images and backgrounds as shackles, and tried to work against them instead of with them. The whole thing could use a nice, thorough edit and polish to pare down unnecessary adjectives and descriptions - or perhaps, have them replaced with more specific, evocative descriptions, depending on the situation.

But yeah, one of the stronger entries I've read so far. Good job <3

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#58 Post by papillon » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:56 pm

Speaking of Dusted Star, the author has sent in a walkthrough which I've now linked in the second post
http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewto ... 10#p230028

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#59 Post by OokamiKasumi » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:59 pm

The Day I Died

The creator's first mistake was giving away the punchline to the whole story in the Title.
-- Bad Move. That actually ruined the whole story for me before I even began.

Next, Identify who is speaking please.
-- When we got to this part:
ADV_comp_DayIDied001.jpg
-- I thought the spirit had followed the nameless main character home, but after reading through the following (several times...)
ADV_comp_DayIDied002.jpg
-- I realized that it wasn't the spirit at the door, it was some unidentified person. A person who is in fact, never identified; nor is the reason they are knocking on the protagonist's door.

Which brings me to: PLOT HOLES.
-- This story had so many, it was practically Swiss Cheese. I got that the protagonist had some sort of issue going on, and that certain unidentified people were bothering them about it, but the issue itself was never addressed. In addition, this mysterious issue had nothing what-so-ever to do with the plot.

Chekhov's Law:
-- "If the Gun is shown on the mantelpiece in Chapter one, it needs to go off by Chapter Three."

That issue never went off. Hell, it was never even identified! So why was it in this story? Decoration...?

Overall, this story felt Unfinished.
-- Characters are there, but not identified. The protagonist has an issue, but it's not identified, nor addressed. The layout is one sentence after another without bothering to group them into actual paragraphs.

Quite literally, it read like a first draft thrown together in extreme haste and submitted. That doesn't make it Bad. Potential for a damned good story is definitely there, just...utterly unfulfilled.
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"No amount of great animation will save a bad story." -- John Lasseter of Pixar

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Re: The Spirit Of Disaster (Competition 2012)

#60 Post by jw2pfd » Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:28 pm

"Nostalgia, the Dead Child"

This happened to be the first entry in my list and therefore the first game that I played. Since then I have played many other entries, this is definitely one of the lengthier ones I have played so far. The story starts out with explaining Nostalgia and Hope and then does two quick scene changes. At the time, I was unsure of what was going on and wondered whether they were real events or a dream or whatever. One thing the story does well early on is establish the theme of twins. The story about Nostalgia and Hope being twins and then the book reference about twins. When you first see that Narase is visually the same as Sachina, I wasn't sure at the point exactly where the story was going, but I felt well-prepared for the idea that they were twins. If I am remembering this correctly, Sachina translated to "luck south". I thought this was a clever way of saying "luck going south" or "bad luck" and is definitely an apt title for a spirit of disaster.

The author made good use of backgrounds, effects, and music. The "hallway" background is what sticks out in my mind for some reason. I remember a lot of the story being developed during that background and it's the only entry I've read that has used that background so far. I like the author's use of mini-flashbacks to remind the reader of key lines from earlier in the story. I don't remember how many options there were, but I made a note that I got "Ending 1: Hope". I have not played through it again as of yet to see another ending. I liked the idea of Narase's perception being warped by Sachina and that being the cause of disaster in Narase's life.

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