Uhm, first of all...
I'm not trying to exploit anybody....I'm not that kind of person. I don't really think it's cool that you're implying that and even if you don't mean you shouldn't say it because you don't me.
No need to take this too personal, I don't think Trooper means that, we're having a debate about something fairly important for people trying to get some work through this community, so everyone here wants clear points and a well defined exchange of opinions.
I do think you have a point about the "risks" of making this an excessively "high-profile-centered" dev forum, but I'll adress that later. Right now, about two points directly asked to me:
1) Sometimes the great expensive artists aren't actually the best for VNs because they don't have experience doing work for VNs--which isn't exactly the same as other media. In terms on art...can you work for LiveComposite? Or are you used to static finished products? This gap is particularly obvious to me when it comes to music. I have played a few video games where they got a famous film composer to do the music...and it isn't very good because they didn't understand how to make music for an interactive experience. So sometimes the big, famous people are not actually as good as the less famous people who understand better how to create for the medium in specific. So...big famous is not always better.
First things first, I have to admit I'm not sure about what LiveComposite is xD I tried to learn about it before posting here again, but all I find is some kind of auto-exposure function in new cameras, and some documentation about Renpy which I don't really understand well. I've asked to some people, and I've been told it's pretty much painting in different pieces so they can be placed in different ways, or orders (for example, making a blank face and separated features, in a more refined way than just "drawin' different expressions").
I specify that just in case I got everything wrong xD If I got it right, then... actually yes, unless it's for something really specific, like animating it on EmoFuri or something like that, which requires a very concrete knowledge, every decent illustrator should be able to make a good job with it (if they plan a workflow that considers how the art is being used, which should be something well organised from the beginning). Well, there are actually high profile illustrators, some of them with huge western influences (even more than eastern) working on visual novels and/or visual novel-style graphics (I specially remember Katsuya Terada, who worked in the Jake Hunter games, and in the PS2 Wizardry videogames. That also brings me to Jun Suemi, who also worked for Wizardry, and even the RPGMaker engine).
As long as the work is properly treated, a lot of the times it shouldn't be a problem. I mention this because of your musical example: most of the times, when a film composer is hired to make a videogame music... well, not only the music itself is treated like that of a film's, but usually the game itself is more treated like a Hollywood product without shying away from the notion of not considering their work as a videogame, nor the music design. Castlevania comes to my mind with their Lords of Shadows installments, which I'd say went full "Lord of the Rings's epic music style". They DID have some cool interactivity, and felt well with the gameplay, but the music felt like wanting to be so "cinematic" and "epic" that the composer didn't even have a basic melody, and just threw instruments and some choruses (in fact, I'm honestly trying, and I can't remember a single second of music from those games... except those which were homages to classic Castlevania themes).
Of course, I'm no musician, so if you think I'm mistaken, feel free to correct me on that matter!
Going back to art, there is a chance that a very specific knowledge may be an issue for a big name like the ones we've mentioned, but if that's not the case, it's probably a matter of letting the worker know about what are they actually doing. Unless exceptional cases, visual novel art (Meaning sprites, backgrounds and CGs) (I prefer to put GUI in a different category, since I consider it more graphic design than illustration) isn't that different from other forms of painting (technical issues aside, which can be worked with).
2) You are right, we aren't that big yet. But I think one of the reasons we aren't that big yet is that we often don't reach outside of our very insular community. There are EVNs that have done well within our community...there those EVN who were really successful because they could tap into the market of people who like JVNs...but the potential market is so much bigger than that. And I think to get that market, we need to reach beyond the traditional EVN community. Juniper's Knot got a lot of mobile users and other users through really gorgeous art and great design. Now, as a person who has played a decent number of VNs...(this is just my opinion)...I don't think the writing was as good as a lot of the VNs I played coming out of the LSF community. But it was reaching a new market who aren't used to some of the great things we've done here. Christine Love hit a much bigger market, so did Cinders. Cause of Death had a great market for the years it was around before EA decided it wasn't making EA level money. [Etc]
I agree in that we're still aiming for a relatively little audience, even within our niche (I can't really say I'm free of fault, since 99% of my influences come from JVNs, and one of my projects feels so much like Type-Moon, the original outline of the story felt like a rip-off), but that's partly because this is a "young" market. Games likes the ones you've mentioned are slowly opening the gates, and are creating a proper audience for EVNs (I'd also mention Hanako Games, since it got more exposure than usual thanks to media like Extra Credits talking about then) (Their recommendation actually convinced me to buy Long Live the Queen, which surprised me with its impressive complexity and well-developed lore). But most of the market is still thinking on Japanese, most of the big commercial visual novels that are becoming specially successful still come from Japan (specially since the Otome genre got so big in the west), and we're bathed in anime tropes and aesthetics.
Once again, that's changing while we're talking here, which is always good, but there is a long way to go until then. The EVN industry is still becoming a thing, and trying to force big names and budgets feels, at least to me, a way to just smash the current main goal of our market: to become not big, but middle grounded. Let's say AA games, which have been almost non-existant these years due to publishers only making multi-millionare inversions, and indies... well, doing what they can (and even then, in a Kotaku article about budgets that I think was shared in this thread, it's mentioned that Braid costed 200.000$, more or less the same budget than the mentioned Tokyo Dark (which is actually Japanese, and with some exposure/support from Square-Enix as far as I see).
I like the idea of growing, of course! But we should make sure it's a sure and steady process that allows our market to get a solid foundation, and I think that still needs some more time (Also, something I enjoy about the indie community is that dispossition to experiment with both narrative and visuals, and we all know that the more money = the less risks. We may want to enjoy more of that freedom, which might also give the EVN world a more distinct shape and fame).
With all of this said, about the point I wanted to expand at the beginning...
I guess I just worry if the prices skyrocket this place will become less of a community and more of a place of competition.
I'd like to say I'm afraid of the same, but for a different reason which I already stated, allow me to quote myself:
Let's say AA games, which have been almost non-existant these years due to publishers only making multi-millionare inversions, and indies... well, doing what they can
The risk I see with the possibility of big shots setting ground in a place like this, is not transforming LSF into a place of competition per-se (which kinda is, right now, just feels like a pretty healthy competition, at least to me), but a completely broken competition
. There is a chance that, if the EVN market grows in such circumstances, those with budget will not even bother to take a look a those who aren't big names already, and those without money would go for the cheapest, since they just don't have a choice. And that destroys the middle ground. It doesn't necesarilly have to go into the videogame's developement level, it can and does happen in more little circles (I leave it in spoiler because someone may consider this content more of a filler):
I daresay this happened in Spain, regarding videogame voice acting, which started as a more niche work for middle-quality actors and beginners, but grew up too fast and just forgot any middle ground. Nowadays, if you want your videogame to have Spaniard voices, your only choices are to go to the big studios and expending good money, or trying to go completely indie... and that's almost legally impossible due to Spain's voice acting conventions, and there's only ONE known case where they could pull this off (The original Spanish voices of Unepic).