Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#76 Post by jack_norton » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:14 am

That's really true, I get many comments on Greenlight even for Loren like "ah is one of those games..." when even just spending 15s of time looking at screenshots you clearly see images of an inventory, skills, combat, and so on, so clearly is not a VN!
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#77 Post by Obscura » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:26 am

TeeGee wrote:Sorry, I'm late to the party as always :). I should really check these forums more often. Lots of interesting discussion, and on something that we've been thinking about as well.
Reikun wrote: I'd like to point out that Moacube's Cinders seemed to have no issue with calling itself a "visual novel" despite its non-anime art style.
Cinders' page on moacube.com wrote:Cinders is our fairytale-inspired visual novel, ditching the passive protagonist and banal morals of the original story in sake of a more serious approach.
There's no mention of any other term to describe what "kind" of game it was and people seemed to love it.
Actually, we think that calling Cinders a visual novel was a mistake, and we're trying to avoid that with Solstice. It scares people away, unfortunately :(.

There's some stigma involved with the term VN and it affects people's impression of the game before they even play it. If you send the game to press the and call it "a feminist retelling of Cinderella", they'll likely get interested and play it. If you call it a visual novel, there's a large chance they'll think "oh, one of those..." and won't even care to check it out.
Of course I don't know how well it did in terms of "typical VN audience" versus "people-not-familiar-with-the-term-visual-novel audience," but it did get a lot of press outside of VN-centric sites.
Cinders sold mostly to the existing VN audience, even despite the okay mainstream coverage. Features on Kotaku and the likes bring a lot of traffic, but almost no sales. Actually, we got more sales and interested players from mentions on personal blogs and tumblrs of VN fans.

Mainstream gamers are simply not interested in playing visual novels. In a way, you have to trick them to try it. And then hope that it's good enough so they keep playing.
I will be VERY interested in the terminology you'll be using to describe Solstice to the general public.

You guys are pretty much the only commercial Western-style VN developer I can think of (unless you count Walking Dead as a VN vs. adventure game). Setting the stage...so to speak.

It does seem to me that the VN term does have both good and bad associations with it, and will work mostly against you if a game doesn't have an anime art style, because frankly, that's what most existing VN players are on the lookout for (my guess).
jack_norton wrote:
Obscura wrote: (And yes, I don't know if it will ever happen, but the iPad just always seemed like such a perfect device for VNs. I just don't know whether sales would ever justify the cost of porting it?)
For a game like yours you can save your time, since in the 99% of cases it wouldn't get approved by Apple :wink:
I mean it would be very risky - that's why the best would be to have a cross-platform engine. I port all my games on Android even if they sell peanuts just because with Ren'Py is very simple/fast :)
Oh yes, I'm very aware of that for my game--it would get pulled in a second--I just meant in terms of existing VNs.
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#78 Post by AxemRed » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:11 am

Obscura wrote:It does seem to me that the VN term does have both good and bad associations with it, and will work mostly against you if a game doesn't have an anime art style, because frankly, that's what most existing VN players are on the lookout for (my guess).
In my experience, no-one cares about the art style as long as it looks good.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#79 Post by Zylinder » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:24 am

AxemRed wrote:In my experience, no-one cares about the art style as long as it looks good.
If comments are the only thing you judge by, then in this forum alone the trend is that anime style art is more popular than their counterparts. Even when the anime art has a lot more anatomical mistakes/is worse overall, they still get a lot more attention.

Depending on what kind of demographic you plan to pander to, it's something to keep in mind.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#80 Post by jack_norton » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:48 am

For what is worth I got some complaints from people about the anime art in my RPGs, many of them admitted that they didn't try the games initially because of the style even if they later liked them a lot. On the opposite, many people disliked Vera Blanc art style even if was a VN.
So while there are preferences depending on genres, in general as long as the art quality is good shouldn't be a problem, then of course there are always going to be people with all kind of reasons / motivations (like that lady that didn't play Loren because you can't be a Mage :lol:).
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#81 Post by TeeGee » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:51 am

AxemRed wrote:
Obscura wrote:It does seem to me that the VN term does have both good and bad associations with it, and will work mostly against you if a game doesn't have an anime art style, because frankly, that's what most existing VN players are on the lookout for (my guess).
In my experience, no-one cares about the art style as long as it looks good.
That's our experience as well. I don't think I ever saw a comment saying: "Aw, I hoped this would be anime!". In fact, I think that the art style helped a lot with promoting Cinders to the VN fans, as it promised something a bit different.

I think I said this before, but I was a bit afraid when we first showed Cinders to this community. We made the same assumption that if most VNs are anime, that's what the community is going to expect and that you guys are going to reject it. No such thing happened. In my impression, this community was actually the most open minded about trying something new. Much more so than the mainstream gamers, who won't touch anything called VN with a ten feet pole, regardless of the style.
Obscura wrote: I will be VERY interested in the terminology you'll be using to describe Solstice to the general public.

You guys are pretty much the only commercial Western-style VN developer I can think of (unless you count Walking Dead as a VN vs. adventure game). Setting the stage...so to speak.
We decided to simply focus on the content instead of the genre, which is always the better way. So we're just describing it as a fantasy mystery. Fans will know it's a VN anyway, and it increases the chance that journalists won't run away from it before even looking at the screenshots.

We even considered calling it an adventure game, but that would be lying. So nope :).
Last edited by TeeGee on Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#82 Post by AxemRed » Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:07 am

Zylinder wrote:
AxemRed wrote:In my experience, no-one cares about the art style as long as it looks good.
If comments are the only thing you judge by, then in this forum alone the trend is that anime style art is more popular than their counterparts. Even when the anime art has a lot more anatomical mistakes/is worse overall, they still get a lot more attention.
I'm not seeing "anime style art is more popular" -- there aren't enough non-anime-art projects to make that judgement.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#83 Post by superhbman » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:21 am

Zylinder wrote:If comments are the only thing you judge by, then in this forum alone the trend is that anime style art is more popular than their counterparts. Even when the anime art has a lot more anatomical mistakes/is worse overall, they still get a lot more attention.

Depending on what kind of demographic you plan to pander to, it's something to keep in mind.
Personally, I would much prefer if the idea of anime art style could be divorced from the idea of VNs, because if insist that VN = anime = Japan, then we might have to simultaneously promote both VNs, anime, and Japanese culture / eccentricities to everyone (as in, the largest possible audience); and as far as I can see, neither anime nor VNs are too well known or accepted yet. Plus, we run the risk of forcing all possible VNs into conforming to one particular style, which I think would severely cripple VNs as a medium of entertainment (as compared to books, movies, and video games).

As for the name Visual Novel, I'm fine with it. My view is that stigma should be confronted, not shy away from. Change people's views, not get swayed by it.
Then again, I'm not sure where the name Visual Novel came from.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#84 Post by nyaatrap » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:50 am

superhbman wrote:Then again, I'm not sure where the name Visual Novel came from.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shizuku This one game defined the term and style. And the following http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Heart made the market. Because "Sound novel" is a registered trade mark (using this in Japan will bet sued :P), They need another better name. BTW, Visual novel isn't registered - and no one uses Sound novel anymore.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#85 Post by Ferdokki » Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:46 am

...can I ask a seemingly stupid question? Ok, here goes...

In response to what was written on page 1 of this thread, why did the Japanese media introduce Ren'Py as an "interactive e-book"? Like, if they make VN's, what's wrong with the way we make ours? Is our style very different?
I've played a lot of Japanese visual novels, but I cannot understand why our VN is seen as different from theirs, as a lot of professional-looking VN's made using Ren'Py look like the standard Japanese visual novel.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#86 Post by SundownKid » Wed Dec 25, 2013 5:15 am

I feel like there's not really a problem with calling western visual novels something else if you aren't comfortable with the term. I don't think the term is great for describing what visual novels are either - and it pigeonholes the games into anime, Japan, dating sim genre, etc. It is already pre-attached to an existing idea which can be completely different than what indie developers are trying to accomplish.

In my opinion both EVN and OELVN are bad terms. They immediately give the impression that JVN = superior and EVN is their inferior cousin rather than an equal or completely different animal. Either call it "VN" or call it something else entirely. There may not be as many big budget EVNs as JVNs, but they have 'made it' as a genre in the west, if Steam is any indication.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#87 Post by KimiYoriBaka » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:01 am

is anyone else bothered by the usage of "visual novel" for short stories?

I feel like "visual story" would often be more fitting.

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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#88 Post by Donmai » Thu Dec 26, 2013 5:20 pm

KimiYoriBaka wrote:is anyone else bothered by the usage of "visual novel" for short stories?
I could be (during last NaNoRenO I introduced Li'l Red as a "visual tale"). (I hope I will succeed trying to explain my ideas using my terrible English) The use of the word "novel" in English and Spanish is very different from other languages. The word for a longer narrative in other languages is "Romance" (PT), "Romanzo" (IT), "Roman" (FR), and so on. In Portuguese, when a story is not so short to be called a short story, and not so long to be called a "romance" and also has a not so very complex narrative, it is called a "novela". If we are trying to find a literary genre to name our visual narratives, then I would also call most of them "visual stories" or "visual tales".
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#89 Post by Gear » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:12 pm

Ferdokki wrote:...can I ask a seemingly stupid question? Ok, here goes...

In response to what was written on page 1 of this thread, why did the Japanese media introduce Ren'Py as an "interactive e-book"? Like, if they make VN's, what's wrong with the way we make ours? Is our style very different?
I've played a lot of Japanese visual novels, but I cannot understand why our VN is seen as different from theirs, as a lot of professional-looking VN's made using Ren'Py look like the standard Japanese visual novel.
I don't think they were saying anything was wrong with it. A huge part of this discussion revolves around the stigma of the term "Visual Novel." I myself am hesitant to call my own game such, as it carries the expectation of meaningless sex, bad art, crappy writing, and technical problems. But mostly meaningless sex. That's not normal for this genre to be sure, but that's what's expected, and your game often gets ignored when called that. We're just trying to think of whether or not to come up with a better genre name, and what that name would even be.

As for my first say in the discussion, I am definitely all for abandoning the term due to the connotation. I've been calling my game a text-based adventure, because I'd rather be equated to that old-style DOS-based adventure game than what people tend to equate VNs with.
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Re: Visual Novels: Should We Abandon the Term? And How?

#90 Post by Hazel-Bun » Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:06 pm

I personally will stick to visual novels for two reasons...

1). No amount of name changing will drop stigma people carry about it.

Call it a visual novel? It's not a game, just a stupid book, porn, anime-desu trash and so on.
Call it a visual story or interactive e-book? About the same as above and maybe comments of, isn't that just a digital picture book?
Call it a text-based adventure? Get blank stares from people under twenty or even older folks, association with nerds, weirdos and so on.
Call it an oelvn or evn? People think you're putting the western hemisphere above others or and, are just some spin-off of the original that's not as good.
And so on and so on.


2). As someone said, I'd rather confront stigma than shy away or disassociate with the genre I love.

I love visual novels and I also like anime and manga and everything in between. I feel a lot like when I try to explain the otome genre to non-fans or the fact that anime/manga "style" isn't confined to super moe, and get brushed off as a lonely, ugly woman or get "whatever it's all the same arguments"... when people bring up this question of what to call visual novels/kinetic novels rather than, well, that.

I'm not a typical gamer and it irritates me when others declare me or label me not one for liking this genre and creating for it. Sure there might be different names we could call it, but any name will carry with it the good and the bad and the general "what the heck is this" no matter how we try to change it.

The oelvn scene is still new and growing and I think, much like anime and manga sub-cultures, can find their niche and grow from there over here. For those who want to expand beyond that, use more "western" looking art, or even add elements like rpgs that aren't "pure" visual novels (which I hope to too in the near future), more power to ya'! What's stopping you?

A name is a name and it won't change the actual content of the genre no mater what we call it. I think as a community, we'd be better off trying to create content that stretch the limits of what we define or don't define as a visual novel, rather than playing tomato-tamoto, trying to re-brand/re-invent the name of the wheel.

Just my two cents though ^^ I think this is a useful discussion topic too and everyone is making very strong arguments for, against, and just plain neutral in general.
Last edited by Hazel-Bun on Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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