Hey there ^^

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Sadiesins
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Hey there ^^

#1 Post by Sadiesins » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:15 am

Hey, just a newbie saying hello. :wink:

Uh, I'm a writer slash artist looking to give an interactive novel a shot. I write a lot of adult, MM stories which I don't imagine will be made into movies anytime soon, so this feels like the next best thing. I found mention of Lemma Soft in the credits of Dr Frank's Build a Boyfriend, and was totally--happily--shocked to discover there were people actually talking about making story based games out there! I've been poking around Tyranobuilder, but I suspect it might be a little limited for what I want to do (costumes; you should always be able to unlock a bunch of different costumes for your characters!) It'll end up being big. It feels like the time it takes to make the background and character art is the same, but if the art is reused because the plot is longer, the value increases... right? I may be deluding myself. >_>

I realize there is a lot of reading I have to do before I'll even have any proper questions to ask. What I'm currently curious about is perspective execution when it comes to the story creation. I feel like I just haven't played (read?) enough visual novels to really get a feel for what can be done just yet, you know? Right now I'm curious about character perspective (my concept is third person instead of the many first person POVs I've stumbled across) and how that perspective is portrayed to the reader through the graphics. For example, when you have 2 characters talking to each other, would you have both characters on the main screen, or flash to each, depending; have close up bust/face graphics by the box to show one talking, while in the background the other is reacting to what's being said--that sort of thing.

I feel like this is almost a question of story presentation that would vary the same way one might do a close up in a movie verse a wide shot. I want to have a strong concept of reader experience before jumping into the how-to of coding and such, otherwise I suspect it will be easy to get muddled in the language learning process. If anyone has seen a topic like this around or even has the proper vocabulary for what I'm talking about so I can research it myself, I'd be really grateful for the help.

I've been looking at this stuff off and on for about 1/2 a year just trying to flesh out the concept while working on other projects. I don't expect to be jumping in crazy fast, but I do intend to finish what I start once I get going. I'm super excited to meet you all. :mrgreen:

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Re: Hey there ^^

#2 Post by Matalla » Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:53 am

Hi, here you have some thoughts for another (mostly) newbie.

I'd try not to get too much influence from another visual novels, at least in the aspects you mention. Work on your own narrative concepts and then, worry about the technical implementation of that, otherwise you'll end doing the same things everybody does. Renpy is flexible enough to acomodate almost any concept, although it has its bias toward standard VN narrative.

That hint you drop about a shot/reverse shot narrative mechanism for instance, it could be something very interesting, and something that you will hardly find in most VN

This is true for all types of art/entertainment products: everybody copies everybody. Visual novels, sadly, it's a niche medium and lacks the sufficient number of creators to produce a healthy and regular dose of new talent who can come up with new points of view. Don't tie yourself to any concept just because it's what people do.
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Re: Hey there ^^

#3 Post by Godline » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:46 am

Heiden is an iconic queen with coding. <3

But you need to read more and get more experience. There are a lot of unique visual novels out there in the completed games forum that do not fit the standard mould. They have absolutely inspired me.

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Re: Hey there ^^

#4 Post by arty » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:03 am

Welcome to the forum and visual novels!

I'm a writer, artist, and screenwriter myself, and I've finished my first visual novel last year. Recently started working on a second one.

The best advice I can give you is to just do your own thing. I played about 1.4 visual novels before I started making my own. As a beginner it might help to orient yourself with other VNs to get the absolute basics down, but anything beyond the basic mechanics, I think looking at other games too much will not help you. VNs are a very saturated market, and you have thousands of games that look and feel very similar. If that's what you're aiming for, then more power to you. But I think if you want to create something more memorable, then go wild with your concepts...

Just be clear about what you want in your game and what not. Feature creep is a thing even with VNs.

If you want to show all characters on the screen as sprites, then do it. If you want a third person narration, then do it. There's no real rules, just terminology and stuff that people tend to do. And just because no one or very few people have done it before, it doesn't mean it's taboo.

Be aware of the difference between Visual Novels and Kinetic Novels, though. You said that you wanted to make movies, in that case a Kinetic Novel may be best suited for you. Kinetic Novels don't have player choices or branching narratives. They are more like an actual novel, or a movie.

Hope that helps. Cheers!

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Re: Hey there ^^

#5 Post by sake-bento » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:35 pm

Ooh, some cool thoughts (also, welcome to the forum!)

I don't know of an in depth study of it, but I think you'll find most visual novels are blocked more like a stage play than a movie. All the players in the scene are visible on the stage at the same time, and they enter and exit the stage as the story dictates. The exception to this would be the main character if the story is presented in first person POV. They usually don't appear on the "stage," although sometimes they have a portrait that appears positioned with the text box at the bottom of the screen.

I think the biggest benefit of this is that you can put a lot of information into a single screen. Fitting a character's line, plus the reactions of everyone else as they say it allows you to build each of the characters in a single moment. Some visual novels prefer to darken sprites of inactive characters, like a spotlight effect (to stick with the stage play analogy).

That being said, I don't think it's a hard and fast rule. It's just a convention of the medium that folks have gotten used to. I've played with comic book style blocking before with panels that cut in to headshots of characters, and I've seen other people push it even further in that direction will full illustrations or speech bubble styled text boxes that move with the characters. My best advice would be to seek out some visual novels in the genre you'd like to work in, and play through, taking notes on what works, and how you'd prefer to do things differently. We could always use new perspective.

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Re: Hey there ^^

#6 Post by gekiganwing » Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:59 pm

Sadiesins wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:15 am
Right now I'm curious about character perspective (my concept is third person instead of the many first person POVs I've stumbled across) and how that perspective is portrayed to the reader through the graphics. For example, when you have 2 characters talking to each other, would you have both characters on the main screen, or flash to each, depending; have close up bust/face graphics by the box to show one talking, while in the background the other is reacting to what's being said--that sort of thing.
I haven't thought too much about perspective and presentation in visual novels... If you have time, consider discussing this topic on the r/visualnovels sub-Reddit. Some people there may have good insights on how specific VNs present their stories.

I don't think there is an equivalent of the book Understanding Comics for video games. After a brief web search, I found a potentially relevant article that was written ten years ago...

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Re: Hey there ^^

#7 Post by Sadiesins » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:45 pm

Matalla wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:53 am
Hi, here you have some thoughts for another (mostly) newbie.

I'd try not to get too much influence from another visual novels, at least in the aspects you mention. Work on your own narrative concepts and then, worry about the technical implementation of that, otherwise you'll end doing the same things everybody does. Renpy is flexible enough to acomodate almost any concept, although it has its bias toward standard VN narrative.

That hint you drop about a shot/reverse shot narrative mechanism for instance, it could be something very interesting, and something that you will hardly find in most VN

This is true for all types of art/entertainment products: everybody copies everybody. Visual novels, sadly, it's a niche medium and lacks the sufficient number of creators to produce a healthy and regular dose of new talent who can come up with new points of view. Don't tie yourself to any concept just because it's what people do.
Hi Matalla, so glad for the response! (For some reason I was expecting email notifications and was totally shocked to see I had replies when returning to the forum. But hey, happy surprise!)

So, I love your idea of just forging my own way creatively, you know? I think it's a lot of fun and the kind of thing that really draws me to creative projects. Experimentation and no boundaries. You can just pick a direction and see what happens. I guess my hesitation is, if I don't know the limitation of the medium, I might try to do something that will ultimately fail. Or (and this is the inner artist having a nice little doubt fest) what if I'm not as creative as I hope, and I end up doing something less interesting than what's already available? But we don't listen to that inner voice too much (total drag, that one. :wink: )

How sad to realize there aren't a lot of people making VNs. The moment I found out they existed, I was all over it. They're just so fun, and really, who wouldn't want to make their own video game, yeah? I get giddy just thinking about it. Problem solving. It's the nerd in me combined with the artist. I love a challenge. I don't have the same free time as when I was younger, but it's still worth the challenge to create something new and fun. ^^

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Re: Hey there ^^

#8 Post by Sadiesins » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:52 pm

Godline wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:46 am
Heiden is an iconic queen with coding. <3

But you need to read more and get more experience. There are a lot of unique visual novels out there in the completed games forum that do not fit the standard mould. They have absolutely inspired me.
Ooh, hi Godline! I'm going to have to check the completed game forum. (I feel like I'm bouncing around a lot with all the different aspects trying to fill my brain with so much @_@) Yay for the weekend when I can just absorb the finished works all these other creators made. Thank you for the suggestion!

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Re: Hey there ^^

#9 Post by Sadiesins » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:39 am

arty wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:03 am
Welcome to the forum and visual novels!

I'm a writer, artist, and screenwriter myself, and I've finished my first visual novel last year. Recently started working on a second one.

The best advice I can give you is to just do your own thing. I played about 1.4 visual novels before I started making my own. As a beginner it might help to orient yourself with other VNs to get the absolute basics down, but anything beyond the basic mechanics, I think looking at other games too much will not help you. VNs are a very saturated market, and you have thousands of games that look and feel very similar. If that's what you're aiming for, then more power to you. But I think if you want to create something more memorable, then go wild with your concepts...

Just be clear about what you want in your game and what not. Feature creep is a thing even with VNs.

If you want to show all characters on the screen as sprites, then do it. If you want a third person narration, then do it. There's no real rules, just terminology and stuff that people tend to do. And just because no one or very few people have done it before, it doesn't mean it's taboo.

Be aware of the difference between Visual Novels and Kinetic Novels, though. You said that you wanted to make movies, in that case a Kinetic Novel may be best suited for you. Kinetic Novels don't have player choices or branching narratives. They are more like an actual novel, or a movie.

Hope that helps. Cheers!
It does help; thank you arty! And congratulation! How exciting to get a visual novel done, seeing how complicated they are.

Kinetic novels... I'm not sure if mine will fall into that category once it's all done. But ultimately it might only be that...? Okay, and apologies in advance for my ignorance. My idea (based mostly on a type of game/novel I want to experience,) is to create a scenario divided in chapters, where each chapter has certain aspects you can unlock depending on actions taken by the characters. It's linear in some ways because the story line is all laid out, but there are also divergent paths. I want different story elements, you know, different paths, but I don't want to do it the same way as, say, a choose your own adventure (yes, I have totally aged myself there XD) or the other types of path games I've come across before. I always want to get EVERYTHING, not just one story. I hate when I'm trapped once I take a path and can't go back. So the idea is to have with each chapter, story pieces you can unlock either through puzzles or choices, and these unlocked aspects may lead to other story paths as new chapters unlock, or just a quick side vantage point of something you wouldn't otherwise see, or collectable art you can view later, maybe unlock an outfit that other characters react to, that sort of thing. You know, reward without the annoying feeling of being boxed into a decision.

I haven't designed a VN before, so this might be ultimately a bad idea if people really want the challenge of one path choice without exploring other paths within the first game play. I guess I'll find out the hard way because I'm trying to design around this idea. I want paths that can work with the main story but also add something extra enjoyment wise. Kinda like unlocking a level, but the level is a new story or side story. I eventually want it so the player/reader can scroll through each chapter from a menu and see if they've unlocked everything or not, and revisit levels/story scenes to re-experience whatever part they like and try to unlock what they failed to... But still, it does feel like most of it is the reader/player reading and looking at images. >_> So yeah... that could still just be kinetic.

I'll have to think about it. I would like a more interactive experience, but I'm not sure how I'd want to implement it just yet...

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Re: Hey there ^^

#10 Post by Sadiesins » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:50 am

sake-bento wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:35 pm
Ooh, some cool thoughts (also, welcome to the forum!)

I don't know of an in depth study of it, but I think you'll find most visual novels are blocked more like a stage play than a movie. All the players in the scene are visible on the stage at the same time, and they enter and exit the stage as the story dictates. The exception to this would be the main character if the story is presented in first person POV. They usually don't appear on the "stage," although sometimes they have a portrait that appears positioned with the text box at the bottom of the screen.

I think the biggest benefit of this is that you can put a lot of information into a single screen. Fitting a character's line, plus the reactions of everyone else as they say it allows you to build each of the characters in a single moment. Some visual novels prefer to darken sprites of inactive characters, like a spotlight effect (to stick with the stage play analogy).

That being said, I don't think it's a hard and fast rule. It's just a convention of the medium that folks have gotten used to. I've played with comic book style blocking before with panels that cut in to headshots of characters, and I've seen other people push it even further in that direction will full illustrations or speech bubble styled text boxes that move with the characters. My best advice would be to seek out some visual novels in the genre you'd like to work in, and play through, taking notes on what works, and how you'd prefer to do things differently. We could always use new perspective.
Hi sake-bento! Huh, stage play blocking... I can totally see that. I used to act waaaay back in the day and there is a similar one screen perspective with down stage verse upstage, etc, with the stage itself laid out and only changing between scenes... What an interesting way to look at it. That is the style I've seen most. But I'm also intrigued by the comic book visual you mentioned (something else I used to dabble in.) There really are these limitless possibilities of how to tackle a VN. It's kinda exciting. I mean, a part of me just wants to make a decision and go with it, but I like the idea of possibly finding new, interesting ways to engage a reader/player with something as simple as presentation of visual elements.

So much to think about. <3

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Re: Hey there ^^

#11 Post by Sadiesins » Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:01 am

gekiganwing wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:59 pm
Sadiesins wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:15 am
Right now I'm curious about character perspective (my concept is third person instead of the many first person POVs I've stumbled across) and how that perspective is portrayed to the reader through the graphics. For example, when you have 2 characters talking to each other, would you have both characters on the main screen, or flash to each, depending; have close up bust/face graphics by the box to show one talking, while in the background the other is reacting to what's being said--that sort of thing.
I haven't thought too much about perspective and presentation in visual novels... If you have time, consider discussing this topic on the r/visualnovels sub-Reddit. Some people there may have good insights on how specific VNs present their stories.

I don't think there is an equivalent of the book Understanding Comics for video games. After a brief web search, I found a potentially relevant article that was written ten years ago...
Oooh, gekiganwing, this looks fascinating. I find the theory of the things I love just as interesting as the final product. XD

I'll be honest, I tend to avoid reddit after some weird, toxic stuff I can across in a writing group for professionals. I don't know what it is about people trying to just crush other people down and make them 'follow the imaginary rules or they're not allowed to succeed,' but I have no interest in that kind of bs. I'll give it a look though, see if the VN forums are less destructive. If I go by this particular forum where everyone has been super friendly and encouraging, I can hope the reddit version may be just as cool.

So nice to meet you, and thank you for the link!

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Re: Hey there ^^

#12 Post by Matalla » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:02 am

Sadiesins wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:45 pm
Hi Matalla, so glad for the response! (For some reason I was expecting email notifications and was totally shocked to see I had replies when returning to the forum. But hey, happy surprise!)
You can configure that in your user control panel (Click on your username in the top right corner -> Board preferences -> Edit notification options)
Sadiesins wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:45 pm
I guess my hesitation is, if I don't know the limitation of the medium, I might try to do something that will ultimately fail.
I know that this damn thing may look a little intimidatong, but think of it this way: renpy, at its core, it's just a tool to show images and text (and also play sounds). Just think how you would like to use those elements to tell your story. When you have that clear, read the documentation to see if that fits with the basic examples shown; if not, ask for help in the questions forum.
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Re: Hey there ^^

#13 Post by Sadiesins » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:09 pm

Matalla wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:02 am
Sadiesins wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:45 pm
Hi Matalla, so glad for the response! (For some reason I was expecting email notifications and was totally shocked to see I had replies when returning to the forum. But hey, happy surprise!)
You can configure that in your user control panel (Click on your username in the top right corner -> Board preferences -> Edit notification options)
Sadiesins wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:45 pm
I guess my hesitation is, if I don't know the limitation of the medium, I might try to do something that will ultimately fail.
I know that this damn thing may look a little intimidatong, but think of it this way: renpy, at its core, it's just a tool to show images and text (and also play sounds). Just think how you would like to use those elements to tell your story. When you have that clear, read the documentation to see if that fits with the basic examples shown; if not, ask for help in the questions forum.
Awesome, thank you! I'm going to check out those settings right now.

Honestly, the more I'm reading in the forums, the more excited I'm getting about this project. It really feels like the only limit is imagination and time constraints--and even time is only limited depending on if you actually have a deadline, which I don't. If I want to make something like collectable character cards that the reader finds that has a special password that can be used to open certain locked rooms, I could totally do something like that. If I wanted to make it so only certain info was even readable (like a secret language) by collecting something in the game, I could do that. If I want to make multiple branches of plot based on the player deciding how the character reacts in situations, I can do that. I already had the base story in my mind--that is apparently the easy part as I try to figure out how to really make it engaging and interactive so it's not just someone reading through and watching it unfold on the screen.

I suspect all my ideas will eventually narrow down once I start picking elements that work, but I'm loving all the creative thoughts popping up of 'what if.' :D

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