How many characters in a vn?

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meiri
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How many characters in a vn?

#1 Post by meiri » Sun Jun 29, 2014 2:20 am

Not sure if this has been discussed before (I actually tried searching), but how many characters do you think a VN should have?
Does it depend on length? The team's ability/skill?
Or do you think that there is just an expected amount of characters that should be in a visual novel?
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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#2 Post by Asceai » Sun Jun 29, 2014 2:24 am

First of all, there's no need for all characters in a VN to actually be drawn. In fact, typical VNs have tons of side characters that never appear onscreen. So there's no limit from that perspective.

If you're referring to characters that do appear on the screen, the minimum number is 1 - after all, everyone loved Planetarian, right?
(Of course, this minimum only applies if you're making a VN where characters appear on the screen - backgrounds-only is also a legitimate direction)

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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#3 Post by Googaboga » Sun Jun 29, 2014 2:35 am

There is no expected amount. There are big games, small games, in between, etc. So don't try and force yourself to have a certain number C:. Ideally the game should have as many characters as the team feels it needs. Even if a game is short, if it needs a lot of characters for the story to be told feel free to add in a bunch. And vice versa for a long game and a small cast.

However I personally think the team's ability should be the number one deciding factor in the end. Even if the game has a bunch of characters planned if a writer can't write for all them or the artist can't draw them all it'd be a bad idea to try and force more in (unless you then recruit more people or give them more time or something).
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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#4 Post by Zetsubou » Sun Jun 29, 2014 2:49 am

I'd say it depends on the length, genre, and how important the characters are.

Length is self-explanatory. A short VN with too many characters won't have enough focus on the main character(s), a long VN with only a couple of characters will make it hard to keep the player engaged.

Certain genres will have far more characters than others. For example, if you were writing a murder mystery VN, you'd likely have several victims, several suspects, the main characters, detectives, etc. A wide array of characters.
On the other hand, if you were writing a dating sim you'd likely only have a few different girls to pursue, maybe some comedy relief characters or people to get in the way. Too many pursuable girls would make it hard to keep all of their characters notably different, and too many side characters can cause the focus of the VN to deviate; the player wants to date one of the girls, not spend half the game talking to miscellaneous, unpursuable randoms.

The importance of each character is probably more vital than the actual number of them. If a character is only in one scene, do they even count towards the total? How many "main" or pivotal characters do you have? You can easily have dozens of misc one-scene characters who don't even have sprites, but the number of main characters shouldn't get too high.

There's no real rule or quantative guideline that I'm aware of. Just ask yourself how necessary each of the characters you have is, and whether or not they fill their role. Don't overcomplicate characters either; if one character has too many traits or roles, split them into two characters.
If you ever find yourself changing/adding to an existing character to suit an event you want to write in, or struggling to find ways to keep a different character relevant, then it's time to reassess how many characters you have.
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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#5 Post by trooper6 » Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:22 am

It should depend on the needs of a story.

If you are making some sort of VN where one person is shipwrecked on an island? Then there is only one character.
If you are making a VN where you are part of a soccer team...then you need 11+coach...and maybe more.
If you are making a VN where the main character must find the one honest person in a group of 100...then I suppose you need 101 characters.

So...make the story and let that guide the numbers.
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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#6 Post by LVUER » Sun Jun 29, 2014 4:33 am

No fixed amount. Depending on the story and the author wants. I forgot the title but there is a quite lengthy VN that so good, it took quite a while for me to realize that that VN only have 2 characters; protagonist and the heroine (and just several of faceless, nameless characters) banter each other. You could make it so it's just the protagonist and the heroine, so it's 1 + the winnable characters (if there are 3 girls, then it's 4 characters in total).
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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#7 Post by Gear » Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:52 am

It's all about the story. The temptation is to let the story be curtailed by other problems, but that does a disservice to the story itself. Your game should have as many characters as the story needs to tell...um...itself.
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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#8 Post by SundownKid » Sun Jun 29, 2014 1:36 pm

While there is no limit to the characters, the fewer characters the better (though that doesn't really apply to anonymous NPCs of course).

Less characters has several benefits:
- Cheaper to draw, faster to make the VN
- The characters become more memorable and you can develop them more

My 100,000 word VN had about 20 named characters, and I thought it was a little too many. I could have probably cut a few characters from the story and it would have still been of equivalent quality. And if it's not an adventure story, you can probably make do with even fewer characters.

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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#9 Post by Gambit74 » Sun Jun 29, 2014 5:35 pm

The way I see it, you should only add the amount that is necessary for your story. The ones who don't do anything to affect the plot (a random person with a one liner, a non-important person who is providing directions to a certain place etc) should be left off-screen. And like SundownKid said, sometimes it is best to have less characters than more because they're easier to manage and are more memorable than a large cast.
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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#10 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:52 am

Everyone has already said that it depends on the story, so I'll skip that part.

Ever have a group of 10 or more people introduce themselves at the same time, and expect you to remember their names? It's the same with other media. If you have a large number of people, spacing their introductions out makes it a lot easier on the audience. Also, having variance in names helps too.
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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#11 Post by meiri » Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:26 pm

These are all very interesting and valid responses :) Thank you for responding, Ill definitely have to tak into consideration your responses for my vn.
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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#12 Post by peapodprincess » Fri Jul 04, 2014 5:52 pm

LVUER wrote:No fixed amount. Depending on the story and the author wants. I forgot the title but there is a quite lengthy VN that so good, it took quite a while for me to realize that that VN only have 2 characters; protagonist and the heroine (and just several of faceless, nameless characters) banter each other. You could make it so it's just the protagonist and the heroine, so it's 1 + the winnable characters (if there are 3 girls, then it's 4 characters in total).
Are you perhaps referring to Narcissu? :)

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Re: How many characters in a vn?

#13 Post by sasquatchii » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:35 pm

As everyone has said, it's really up to you to decide! Think about what kind of character's you'd like to have, and then reflect on what they bring to the story. Don't worry about having too few or too many, focus on the writing (and the story you want to tell) and the rest will follow!
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