Ok, ok, I didn't want to enter here, but after all I've read I can't stop wishing to mess this a little more with my opinion. I'm seeing a pretty serious issue on the foundations of this argument.
A visual novel is an interactive, audio-visual experience with a beginning, and end, certain rules to accomplish and- oh hell I'll get to the point VIDYAGAEMS.
Visual novels are, to put it very simply, a form of videogame. And most of the discussion I've seen so far looks pretty much like an argument on game-design.
NVL vs ADV is like "Do you want your adventure game to be point & click with inventory or first-person physics-based puzzles?"
They are different means to drive your work, with different methods, design philosophy and ways to achieve things. NVL is a perfectly valid way to make a visual novel when you desire to give priority to text (and even sound) rather than art (Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, for example, in the case of sound, and Tsukihime with text). ADV works better when you want to make art your main part of the experience. It's all a matter of how you use it.
In that regard, Fate/Stay Night actually made an amazing job: It always gave you constant expectacle with pictures, and some of the most extense sound library I've seen in the whole media, without the text hindering it when it wasn't needed, and the opossite happened, too! Fate's only real issue is that... uh... the writing gets boring as hell due to repetition and obvious filler through the whole game. Demonbane is a pretty great example, too, combining everything and customizing the way they show the narration and/or dialogue to allow for a dynamic, immersive reading.
About bad ends... Well, I agree that bad ends tend to become downright awful, I'm once again thinking about Kinoko Nasu's work. But that is basically bad "game-design". The bad ends we're talking about here are not, following a videogame example, fighting a cool boss and then dying. The bad ends we're mentioning here are like walking into a room and ONE-HIT-KILL SPIKES OUT OF NOWHERE! Just to mess with the player.
The Nasu's example here would be Tsukihime (no, no need to talk about getting eating by a shark in a room):
(I'll be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers)
In a certain ending you fight against a bad guy, and when he's almost dead and you want to finish the job, they give you a choice.
-Kill him right naw.
-Wait a second, recover your forces, even though he'll do the same.
One of those choices sends you to the end, but the other is just a BAD END. What is the good choice?
You have no f**** idea, because the bad choice gives the bad guy a surprise skill you didn't know about until it was explained. In the good choice.
So the writer just broke the story and the climax because of a random choice. Skills.
That kind of choices ARE filler, unnecesary and destroy the flow of the game. With that said, there is a point where the "logical, consecuence-driven bad ends" might be taken to an extreme, this time I'm thinking about Kara no Shoujo.
In this game there's never an inmediate bad end, it's all a final time when your choices expose you too much, or just align you with someone you shouldn't have messed, and you get killed.
That may sound as an ideal example of a well-developed bad end... but then, in my personal playthrough, I just got tired after expending almost ten hours to get two bad endings, one of them repeated, and just went to GameFAQs. A bad end, unless it's a definitive end (The Persona 4 examples are pretty good), can't be too developed and long, because it gets to a point when you're also filling time and "wasting" the players's. And damn, even with the Persona 4 example, when you get a bad end there the game just brings you to the right time to fix whatever you messed up so you can continue with the story quickly.
In these situations, a middle ground seems better to me.
And about little choices with no real consequences... well, if they're well written they're perfectly fine. They develop the characters, gives you funny and/or interesting nods, or even hints at future events. Just an "useless" choice and a little nod brings a lot of life to the game's world:
-If you have to choose if you want coffee or tea, it feels like you wasted your time...
-... but if, an hour or two later into the game, your friend/companion/whatever remembers your choice and gives you it because "it's what you liked", it feels like you are part of SOMETHING. Something alive, which thinks about what you say.
About the usual-cliché-X nº of heroines paths... Well, it does sound limiting, and all of that, but I consider it mostly a simple way to organize things. Going back to Fate/Stay Night, we can forget for a momment that the routes have official names, and then... we can have the (I'll try to evade spoilers here too, buuut...):
- "Follow your father's steps and fight to become a hero and accomplish both your partner's and your dream" route.
- "Fight against your own flaws and get over yourself to try and overcome the worst outcome in your life" route.
- "Help your loved one to fight against her abusive family and medieval systems in order to think by yourself" route (I'm sure something's odd with this description, I just got lazy with this one in the game itself, allow me that).
Oooor you can simply say "Saber's route", "Rin's route" and "Sakura's route". Which is a way more comfortable way of organizing this for both the creators and the players.
And, in that regard, the mentioned "awful momment when you have to go through the common route to get to another branch" cannot be evaded as long as you want to have more than one ending, because... well... this is a videogame! And the very time you start your game again, just to see another branch of the story, breaks your immersion and every way to have the original flow and value, because you're just thinking about gaming terms. You may (and probably will) recover everything once you get in the route you wanted to be, but the "original, first experience" can't be the same. The only chance you'd have to avoid this is by erasing any common route, and that's... pretty much screwing the whole story, since you just got rid of the first chapters where you present the characters, the context, etc.
With that said, I'll move to the "composition" issues stated in the first posts, which I left to the end because I feel are the easiest ones.
First, the "cinematic composition" is a matter of time, resources and budget. The examples like G-senjou no Maou and Dies Irae work well with a few scenes. More than that is just hindering the player. Cause once again this is a videogame, and in this media the player is who really chooses how to enjoy. It doesn't have to be "I put the text and cool sound in a way and the player experiences it like this" (which is mostly how a cutscene works), just the "guiding the player" part can hinder the player too much to enjoy the story as they can, it's like that flashy light in the way in the later Fable games, telling you aaaaall the time "go here, follow this path! This is the good one! Don't ignore me!".
The one who finally dictates how the game is played is the player. He can climb that mountain on a white horse, and enjoy a beautiful starry sky over the distant city... or he can jump from a cliff while saying lolololololol while both his mount and his avatar become a twisted ragdoll breaking apart against the rocks. It's up to him. Any other way of telling the story is just a weird video, like one of those comic-books you could get in DVD which were sound effects and voices over the panels transitioning. And we know how good is... that... thing.
And also, about the huge detailing in sound, text, transitions, rythm, flow, etc, I can only quote myself:
is a matter of time, resources and budget
Really, the OP exposed some cool examples of that, and I'd say there are visual novels like Comyu - Kuroi Ryuu to Yasashii Oukoku, that have this kind of stuff in a moderated way. But all of the examples share a common thing:
They are the visual novel equivalent of AAA videogames. Actually, some of them have production values of millions of dollars, because all of that cool detailing needs a few awesome editors and programmers working well united to the writers. And the sound design... holy cow, sound designers, composers, sound libraries (with lots of original sounds if needed), programmers, voice actors and directors... and let's not get into additional artists/animators and video/special effects editors. Making veeery cool things require a veeery long time, a looot of resources, and in most cases... both of them. And as much as we'd all love otherwise here, this is an indie community with little production values and I'd dare to say (correct me if I'm wrong, guys) not as much experience in any field as the huge companies that make those amazing big-budget VNs.
I think I covered everything... if not... well, next time xD.
PD: Sorry if I failed with my English here, sleepy (to the point of feeling high) Spaniard at 5:50AM gives you troubles with these kind of arguments.
PD2: czxcjx, I may sound a little rude, but... if you could simplify your expression, that would help, I had actual trouble understanding a lot of your posts.
EDIT: I've seen there've been a few more posts when I finished writing this... just... allow me to not adress them here x_X