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Community-Driven Visual Novel

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:46 am
by Evolution
I know what you're thinking: "Community-driven? What is this codswallop!?"
...Okay, perhaps that wasn't your exact thought. But, allow me to explain my little stroke of inspiration regardless!

I'll start off by admitting that media developed through fan contribution is not at all unheard of. There are several Youtube series that produce episodes based on suggestions, the ever-popular Homestuck -- along with the rest of the comics available on MS Paint Adventures -- has entire chunks of story based on fan input, and a certain interactive webstory (that I can't presently recall) goes as far as incorporating voice recordings and drawings submitted by readers into its plot. I do not, however, personally know of any visual novels that utilize this.

Now, despite the fact that it's technically "been done before", as with any idea, it's the execution that matters most. I have many, many ideas for how to go about this, and they go well beyond merely allowing the community to decide which of two or three choices the protagonist(s) make. There is endless Genre Shift potential, room for both hilarity and heart-rending seriousness, and I plan on constructing the story in such a way that while the community may believe they have an idea of what's coming next based off of the choices they've made, I can still manage to throw them for a loop.

I envision this being web-based with directly interactive portions. Most likely suggestions will be made through a forum and front-page polls. There will, of course, be a basic structure for the story and a handful of characters right at the beginning. Others will be added as it progresses. I haven't developed the story yet because I'm interested in hearing some outside opinions of the basic idea beforehand.

Do you think something like this would take? Is it something you'd be interested in participating in, as a fan or developmentally? Any and all opinions and feedback are greatly appreciated!

Re: Community-Driven Visual Novel

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 5:14 am
by SundownKid
I think it would be possible as long as the fan input was limited to polls and the like. At the end of each "episode" it would link to a poll that determined the content of the next episode, the polls would be collected after a week or two and creation of the second one would start.

It doesn't have to be web based, as long as it links to the web poll portion of it from the title screen or after the game's finished. Basically just a more polished, professional version of your typical forum choose your own adventure story.

Of course, it always runs the risk of appearing disjointed once the end is reached, despite being interesting while it's ongoing.

Re: Community-Driven Visual Novel

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:17 pm
by Evolution
Thank you for your input! : )
In your opinion, what would be the benefit of restricting input exclusively to polls?

Personally, I believe it will be difficult for this project to stand out amongst other similarly community-driven projects if I always limit responses to polls. What would make this project unique, aside from the visual novel presentation, is how the questions for what's to happen next are presented. Some sections would indeed require a small set of potential responses in order to keeping the story on track, but I would also like to have some open-ended questions. It makes the story more dynamic, and more likely than not readers would find it more engaging if they were allowed to present their own ideas.

Of course, to avoid the issue of the story seeming disjointed, I would have to be discerning as far as what's actually included in the updates. Or just write it well enough that it all seems to tie together. : P
Either way, I'd most likely have to keep carefully detailed notes so as not to lose track of what's going on.

As far as having it online, I believe that has the benefit over being downloadable due to reaching a wider audience. People are often most likely to participate in something the less effort it seems like they have to put forth. And, having it online also allows for the possibility of it being accessed from phones and tablets. For a project that is dependent on input, reaching as wide of an audience as possible is certainly preferable. Not to mention, I feel it'd offer a greater sense of community.

Re: Community-Driven Visual Novel

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:41 pm
by SundownKid
Evolution wrote:Thank you for your input! : )
In your opinion, what would be the benefit of restricting input exclusively to polls?
IMO, the benefit is that the integrity of the story would be preserved. If the author has a story in mind, there's no need to micromanage elements of the story based on detailed suggestions. It's likely the author already has it under control.\

Having super detailed responses feels more like you're taking writer advice than actually taking votes on how to continue the story. Which might be helpful in some cases, but would be difficult to manage in others. Also, more people would be likely to participate and a large segment of your audience would get a voice.

I think a good combination of both might be the ticket. Have an "official" poll and an "unofficial" suggestion box that might be leveraged if you like the ideas presented.

Re: Community-Driven Visual Novel

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:45 pm
by Evolution
I do understand your reasoning, and I also agree that there would probably be a greater number of responses if it was poll-exclusive, for the same reasoning mentioned above of people often preferring the option that requires less work. However, it goes against my vision to present it that way. I do not plan on just generally asking the audience what they think should happen next. Rather, when I said open-ended responses I meant towards specific questions. Since I would be choosing which portions of which responses to incorporate, there's no reason why I wouldn't be able to fit it logically into the story. I most assuredly would not be just picking a response at random, regardless of how little sense it makes. : P

Although, depending on the type of story you're going for, even allowing fans to contribute unfiltered suggestions can still end up being coherent and entertaining. Take, for example, the forum game in which one person starts a story, the next person adds to it, etc. You will most likely end up with something vastly different than what the original contributor envisioned, but it still ends up being awesome because of it.

I plan on being a bit more structured than that, but if it can be done with no structure whatsoever, I believe that my method is certainly plausible. I just think it'd be more fun that way than with a poll. That's a bit too rigid, and since it doesn't particularly stand out I fear that people will inevitably lose interest.