Visual novel speculations...

A place to discuss things that aren't specific to any one creator or game.
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F.I.A
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Visual novel speculations...

#1 Post by F.I.A » Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:29 am

In this month, I got my hand on both Tsukihime and Higurashi no Naku koro ni to learn how good the original games, and I was rather surprised. Never would I have thought that both of them are doujin games(Yea, at first I thought TYPE-MOON is a big company of sort).

Here are some screenshots from both games:
Higurashi
Tsukihime

From them, I can speculate something for fellow game makers:
1. You do not need big-company-level graphics as a requirements in attracting people. Higurashi characters are sometimes rather misporportioned, and they never show actual five fingers for each hand. As for Tsukihime, the graphic is average compared to the anime and other doujin games based on it(Such as Melty Blood. It is irony, a doujin game of a doujin game.).
2. Background musics also can be excluded, as long as the texts keep the mood. While Higurashi has them to keep you to the mood with character themes and sound effects, Tsukihime has hardly any musics or sound effects.
3. Both games are made from a rather similar engine, that even the interactive menu is the same.

Aside from that, I am never a friend to novel reading(Both games read like a novel instead of a visual novel. Lots of texts on a screen can easily drowse me as effective as a history book.), not to mention that I have a rather weak japanese base. Thus, these two will be stuck in my collection for long before able to finish with both.

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#2 Post by mikey » Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:51 am

As for your points, I guess you're right, a lot of the translated doujin productions prove this, often they are more or less e-books with nothing anime-related.

So the factor may be fan acceptance, if you're talking about popularity and how that relates to the production values, because you can see that the problems are very similar to any amateur developer. You cut back on music, you use a readymade engine, you do your best with the graphics and filter photographs.

Story... yes, maybe, but the fact is, a good story alone will not make up for the lack of acceptance and interest, if the format isn't popular or the buzz isn't generated. So, to bring it to the point, the most important thing is the community.

But well, feel free to disagree, it's Sunday 12:50 CET and I am more or less fixated on Silverstone. :P

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#3 Post by F.I.A » Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:38 am

mikey wrote:As for your points, I guess you're right, a lot of the translated doujin productions prove this, often they are more or less e-books with nothing anime-related.

So the factor may be fan acceptance, if you're talking about popularity and how that relates to the production values, because you can see that the problems are very similar to any amateur developer. You cut back on music, you use a readymade engine, you do your best with the graphics and filter photographs.

Story... yes, maybe, but the fact is, a good story alone will not make up for the lack of acceptance and interest, if the format isn't popular or the buzz isn't generated. So, to bring it to the point, the most important thing is the community.

But well, feel free to disagree, it's Sunday 12:50 CET and I am more or less fixated on Silverstone. :P
Indeed. It's rather what I had in mind. As long as the story draws attentions, you do not need to really have exceptionally great graphics(Something I am drilling myself to practice to draw like famous titles such as Kanon and AIR).

NOTE: To prevent misunderstanding, this thread is never meant as an offense or a flaming against the mentioned games(Heck, I am one guy who was "cursed" with Higurashi). I am only using two famous games as a base example for most would-be makers as a sort of reference. You will not likely get your games turned into anime like the two, but it is not something impossible. Be active in convention is one of the main factor, it seems.

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#4 Post by lordcloudx » Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:17 am

Regarding making visual novels or games in general. The most important thing (for me) is to enjoy the process of actually making the game.

Hehe I'm kinda envious after what you said F.I.A. I've been hunting down tsukihime for a few years now and it's not easy on a dial-up... ah well.

I think tsukihime uses nscripter the same as narcissu and kanon

btw, there are quite a few freeware adventure games here
http://freegame.on.arena.ne.jp/

They might be made with nscripter too. (haven't tried any of em)
How do you make your games? I see. Thank you for the prompt replies, but it is my considered opinion that you're doing it wrong inefficiently because I am a perfushenal professional. Do it my way this way and we can all ascend VN Nirvana together while allowing me to stroke my ego you will improve much faster. Also, please don't forget to thank me for this constructive critique or I will cry and bore you to death respond appropriately with a tl;dr rant discourse of epic adequately lengthy proportions. - Sarcasm Veiled in Euphemism: Secrets of Forum Civility by lordcloudx (Coming soon to an online ebook near you.)

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#5 Post by DrakeNavarone » Sun Jun 11, 2006 11:25 am

I agree with everything that's been said so far, but maybe you should be careful trying to immitate the style of these games.

Take Higurashi. It proves that excellent graphics aren't a requirement for an excellent game. As mentioned above, the characters are misproportionate and have only four fingers. However, this is actually one of Higurashi's selling points. It's a very very sharp turn when you see these cutesy funny looking characters transform into psychotic murderers. It is a strong and startling effect. If you are aiming for that same effect, then feel free to imitate Higurashi's art style, but if you're not, then maybe a little extra effort would be nice. Tsukihime was a good example. The art and character designs look nice, but aren't awe-inspiring. Maybe game makers should try to resemble the art from this game more than Higurashi.

I'm not 100% sure, but I thought that Tsukihime had the same number of music tracks as Higurashi (at least the first chapter, anyway), should be around 13 or so... I'm not sure about the sound effect department, but Tsukihime did utilize its music pretty well for setting the mood. I'm not into the happy-today-is-just-like-every-other-day tunes that play during the everyday life segments of the game, but some of Tsukihime's other tracks are worth noting. Under the Moon is my favorite, and Emotion and Illusionary Dance deserve a bit of mention too. The point is that while you could still manage a great job with no music at all, maybe effectively utilizing the few tracks you have would be better. Shuffling between 2 or 3 tracks wouldn't be a bad idea at all, and if you're playing music most of the game, just having complete silence at the important parts might have a powerful effect, too.... almost as if the silence itself was an actual song.
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#6 Post by mikey » Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:18 pm

F.I.A wrote:As long as the story draws attentions, you do not need to really have exceptionally great graphics
Actually, my point was that it's not even down to the story, but rather to the community - if you have people who appreciate the works for what they are, you don't need stellar music, graphics, not even a story - they can enjoy them as the games they are - no one said the games with the highest production values are the best - and similarly I don't think that the games with the best stories are automatically the best either. So for me, the important thing is that people enjoy works that are done with the visual novel medium. If you have download sites, review sites and so on, then the community is quite strong and it will receive publicity in the long run.

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#7 Post by RedSlash » Mon Jun 12, 2006 8:57 pm

I agree with that graphics don't have to be exceptionally great, but I think having nicer graphics is always a good bonus. Afterall, a VN striped of its graphics is just a novel and we can't judge a novel to be bad because it lacks the visuals.

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#8 Post by DaFool » Sun Aug 27, 2006 3:33 pm

I think the community has relied more on good writing and/or good gameplay in the past, up until now. I'm talking in terms of non-Japanese community, but perhaps this applies to the Japanese community as well many years ago.

With tools being limited, artists on short supply, and the technological hurdle harder to overcome then, then you naturally attracted people who were interested in the 'core essentials'. Most of the people doing this were educated and had exposure to vast array of literature. Likewise you had independent developers who made all sorts of games and wanted to do anime games for a change.

A good story will spread the word for a visual novel, but that VN won't become famous unless it was distributed to many people in the first place. So the initial attractors would be premise. Good, decent graphics would also help in that.

In summary, this is what the community (both western and jp (from the few translated I've seen) has had so far:

Visual Novels --- quality approaches ---> printed novel
(e.g. Narcissu, TYPE-MOON)

Visual Novels --- quality approaches ---> good gameplays
(e.g. Sakura Taisen,...I'm not too familiar with examples here. But dare I say the Lemma Soft games are in this territory (I just finished playing Shoujo Attack, damn that was really really fun). I think dating sims and rpgs land here also.

Visual Novels --- quality approaches ---> movies / anime
This is where I hope to land, with a very high drawings / text ratio. Professional examples are School Days / Summer Days which are interactive anime, thus no need for anime adaptations anymore. I don't think many people will go for the full effect, but the cinematic style can still be achieved with less drawings. Music and sound effects would help a lot here.

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#9 Post by Adorya » Sun Aug 27, 2006 4:15 pm

This is where TYPE-MOON striked to the top by making Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Hollow Ataraxia. While FSN united scenarii quality and good animation, FHA leveled it to the top by adding some kind of gameplay (you have a story and several mini-games at once).

Of course, their popularity was made by their doujin game Tsukihime , which now can be considered as "low graphic quality/sound", but when it was released on 3.5 inch disks in 2000 it was quite a revolution in doujin game term.

TM introduced several innovation in term of VN "gameplay" by adding afterscene death (you get lectured when you die by Ciel-sensei who explain why) and the original "anti-brute force tree path technique" aka the time loop scenario (you have to die at first, and each time you replay the game path change, unveiling more backstory).

That is why Higurashi is considered as the TM successor, taking the time loop system and pushing it to the extreme, while adding a twisted story Siren-like.

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#10 Post by DaFool » Sun Aug 27, 2006 4:43 pm

I've cannot play untranslated stuff, that is really good info.

I think I've played almost all of the English doujin visual novels, save for 4 more games and 4 more demos, but I haven't encountered the time-loop concept as I understand it.

I take it you'll need to save something in persistent data so that no play-through will be totally unique...only the first play-through will be guaranteed the same...is that correct?

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#11 Post by monele » Sun Aug 27, 2006 5:59 pm

Doesn't Crescendo use some sort of timeloop too ? ô_o... *really not sure*

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#12 Post by DaFool » Sun Aug 27, 2006 6:48 pm

Crescendo uses an alternate view. Like for example, you pick choice 2 instead of choice 1. Assuming that choices 1 and 2 don't really branch but meet at some point again, that means that choice 2 temporary path is just a retelling of choice 1.

Also, most visual novels have concept of days of the week, or flashbacks.

I think the time-loop being referred to is when the main character dies and has to restart, but the story is changed slightly. I definitely see Higurashi like this, but wasn't it a kinetic novel?

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#13 Post by yummy » Sun Aug 27, 2006 7:53 pm

The very notion of timeloop is something very common in Visual novels.
You could call them alternative routes, but anyway, they are mostly used to depict characters with extreme details.

The games Cross channel (week timeloop) or higurashi no naku koro ni (chapter timeloop) both use that system to make the reader react to specific events, just like "heh, how would this have happened if things were just a lil bit different?"

Anyways, Higurashi no naku koro ni is a game that make the reader catch his breath. Sound novel huh. I quite agree, the anime doesn't really come quite close to the game atmosphere... And it's pretty funky dark (I'm even scared to watch the anime from episode 6 heh, it makes me realise some details in the game I didn't really cared for at first in the game).

I think Tsukihime and higurashi provided an atmosphere with them, something the reader liked to bathe within, something fascinating.
Something with plots unseen, secrets that lie in the darkest sides of each character...

By the way, there is a ranking in japanese visual novels, which does not really depend on the size of doujin circles or companies.
CGs, music and original game systems are indeed a plus, but players are mostly attracted to games which have the ability to stir up special moods/atmosphere (along with interesting characters of course).

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#14 Post by ciel » Tue Aug 29, 2006 1:05 am

LOL when higurashi first came out on some doujin anime festival, none of them were sold (50 copies or so) Right now they are being sold on line for around 20X the price it was originally sold for. .. because its no longer being sold.. Original price was around 20 dollars. Now the price is 400 dollars! WHOA

Also, Higurashi (7th expansion) is apprantly a one man show. He draws the characters and writes the story... Alot of people were kind of disappointed in the game's graphics but the story just covered it all and.. like i said, it's just one guy. Come on.

I think he drew them that way not only because he wanted "cute" characters (well that's one factor) but also his ability to draw... lacked for the most part. But who cares. (thats why none of the manga and the anime version look like it (different artists but.. they all have 5 fingers instead of 4)

And also... LOL

Image

Image

(taken from http://blog.naver.com/post/postView.jsp ... 0005910068)

yeah....


P.s.
Anyways, Higurashi no naku koro ni is a game that make the reader catch his breath. Sound novel huh. I quite agree, the anime doesn't really come quite close to the game atmosphere... And it's pretty funky dark (I'm even scared to watch the anime from episode 6 heh, it makes me realise some details in the game I didn't really cared for at first in the game).
Oh lordy. YOu should watch episode 21. Find it on youtube or something... >.<

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#15 Post by DaFool » Fri Sep 01, 2006 12:16 pm

Why do most OELVN games have between 6 to 10 endings?

Despite being around 30 minutes or an hour or less, that was more than the number of endings I'd suspect. I initially thought around 3-5 would be fine, this sort of number reminds me more of commercial games half a dozen hours in length...which is usually only about 2 endings per girl--I'm talking about full good/bad endings--and there are usually 4-5 girls. But OELVNs have few girls in comparisons, but more variety of endings with them. And surprisingly, even noncore endings seem less tacked on.

I thought it was just a fluke with mikey games, but then MOST of the games here have this number of ending counts. It's not bad or anything, but what's up?

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