Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#46 Post by Enigma » Fri Nov 28, 2014 8:30 pm

Caveat Lector wrote:@ Enigma

Okay, then I'd like to debate this: Do you feel like there are any particular aspects or conventions of VN's as a medium that tend to be flawed? Not bad, not wrong, but flawed? What do you feel we could do to turn these aspects in another direction? When do you feel these flawed aspects are done right?

For me, I find the concept of good ends, bad ends, true ends, etc. to be flawed. I feel like a VN should be part of a cohesive whole, not just bits and pieces leading up to the "best" ending under the "right" conditions. Something I would love to do with the "bad end" concept is to either:
a) treat it as the VN-equivilant of a premature game over instead of an end-end, or
b) have it be the end to a major story arc as the result of a set of decisions you made that led up to that point--like it could bring closure and feel like it could stand on its own instead of needing to complete other arcs to understand it, or only reaching it as a prerequisite for other endings--and treat it as something of a tragedy. But it could only be just one ending of several potential, happier ones (or much sadder ones, if you will).

Of course, b would require for me to do a lot of programming and testing (heh, maybe I could just find a more talented programmer!), but you get what I mean. In that case, though, what could be used to motivate players to try to explore all possible endings and choices?
Well, a technique I see as flawed is descriptions in VNs. Often times I see rooms described in a VN when you can see them already. I don't think there's no place for description of rooms an such in a VN, but I think we should either describe a character's feelings in relation to the surroundings and their reactions, or only used to call attention to something really important (maybe with some red herrings thrown in as needed).

On the subject of endings. Truthfully I feel that most problems with endings come from creators thinking that the point of an ending is to add meaning to the choices, but there are other ways to do that I could bring up but that'd kinda be wandering off topic. Honestly I think option B hits the nail on the head. Ideally we'd all be able to do this, but of course there are limits to how much content we can put into a game.

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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#47 Post by blankd » Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:48 pm

@enigma and Caveat Lector
Maybe I haven't played enough VNs or I got very lucky with the draws but most of the "bad ends" I came across seemed to be fairly stand-alone endings (then again they typically had lots of death or fates worse than death but eh, name of the end I guess). Though typically the "bad" was characterized by it not being the ideal outcome. I am misunderstanding these terms or again, was I just very lucky with the VNs I read.

Additionally, how are these bad ends narrative-wise different from "bad ends" in non-VN video games? (Someone mentioned Persona earlier, so that could be used as a point of reference for the bad ends I'm talking about, Persona 4 in particular.)

The methods of achieving the endings can vary greatly, but on a simplified scale of simply looking at the major choices might help address this overarching issue.

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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#48 Post by Enigma » Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:54 pm

blankd wrote:@enigma and Caveat Lector
Maybe I haven't played enough VNs or I got very lucky with the draws but most of the "bad ends" I came across seemed to be fairly stand-alone endings (then again they typically had lots of death or fates worse than death but eh, name of the end I guess). Though typically the "bad" was characterized by it not being the ideal outcome. I am misunderstanding these terms or again, was I just very lucky with the VNs I read.

Additionally, how are these bad ends narrative-wise different from "bad ends" in non-VN video games? (Someone mentioned Persona earlier, so that could be used as a point of reference for the bad ends I'm talking about, Persona 4 in particular.)

The methods of achieving the endings can vary greatly, but on a simplified scale of simply looking at the major choices might help address this overarching issue.
The bad end we speak of is not like the (spoiler alert) bad end where you kill Namatame in Persona, it's more like the "ending" you get for losing to any individual monster. Basically it's just any abrupt ending with no closure.

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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#49 Post by czxcjx » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:16 pm

blankd wrote:
Trust me though that my tone is mild here compared to the direct intellectual assault that goes on in the University debating circuit where literally blood and brains rush out into full blown combat. Trust me too that passive-aggressive retorting is basically hardwired into my thought process after 2 years of training there
Can you write anything in a succinct manner? You are literally wasting everyone's time by talking in long flourishes instead of sticking to basic formatting to get across your point.

If you are a writer and you want responses you are going to have to follow the RULE of making your posts legible, both in use of return key and word count.

Asking if you've ever made a VN is not an attack, it is a literal inquiry of your understanding of how you comprehend creation of VNs. And don't broadbrush the arts and the movements, the Dadaists would probably print out your posts, affix the title "Presentatious Posterior" and sign off on it.

This post in particular claims to talk about ideas but it is, ironically enough a demonstration about a fundamental lack of understanding of pacing and tempo of the textual variety. You *are* so caught up on reading "impressive" that you fail to communicate because no one wants to read those things that put textwalls to shame.

I repeat, I am pointing this out not as a way of saying you're wrong but because this is a communication problem, you need to compromise on this or else you sterilize the possibility of having any kind of argument/discussion.
1. The Visual Novel is a content-oriented medium.
1.1. By content I refer to image, sound, textual rhythm and narrative.
1.2 This is opposed to a Visual Novel as a systems-based medium, based around win conditions and choice systems.
1.2.1. Wrong priorities lead to ‘gamification’ of the narrative, which are the source of many problems in the medium
2. The content is a collage.
2.1. This means that every aspect works off every other aspect. Text works with Image, Image works with Sound, Sound works with Text.
2.2. The collage can be seen in terms of Time and Space. (Too jargony? Well I can’t think of a better way to explain this part. But this is important.)
2.2.1. Time is the subjective linear experiencing of the narrative through reading, music and cinematic editing.
2.2.2. Space is the composition of the text and image within a unit of Time.
2.2.2.1 The text is a part of the image in Space but part of the narrative in Time
2.3. The merging of Time and Space creates Tempo. (An example is like the sonorous wistfulness at the beginning of Cross Channel or the frenetic confusion of the beginning of Forest)
3. The end brings closure.
3.1. What does not bring closure is not the end.
3.2. Closure is, psychologically, the absolute end of the narrative.
3.2.1. If the narrative can be easily continued after an ‘end’, that is an abrupt stop rather than an end.
3.3. A closure is not a win-condition.
3.3.1 This means that closure should not be seen as a ‘reward’ and endings should not be ham-fisted into any easy morality. Does-not-get-the-girl and Gets-the-girl endings are examples of this.
3.4. Likewise a lack of closure is not a lose condition.
3.4.1. This means that a ‘bad end’ has no negative connotation outside the content. The content itself has to prove that it’s a ‘bad end’ through tragedy or clearly signposted cues.
4. Choices involve a judgment between scenarios.
4.1. Free will is choice from a vast but finite amount scenarios.
4.2. Choice is the rising up of the self into activity.
4.2.1. In a narrowly defined set of scenarios there is no space for the self to rise, unless the choice has enough weight that it hinges everything on the self. (Choosing between loved ones over choosing tea or coffee)
5. You are the player, not the protagonist, no matter how much you want to be.
5.1. When you make a choice in the game you are not identifying ‘with’ the protagonist.
5.1.1. A judgment always involves a detachment from the protagonist to think from a viewpoint larger than the narrative, that of the self.
5.1.2. What one identifies with or immerses himself into is the content of the choice and not the choice itself.
5.1.2.1. Until systems have enough complexity to sufficiently act as a Mirror of a huge enough aspect of the self, a choice always involves a detachment.
5.2. A player can only immerse himself into the protagonist by identifying with his character, which is done through content. (Even a silent protagonist that is stripped down to his core is still identified in terms of the content and consequences of the choice rather than the choice itself)

This should be read in tandem with the With Regard to Bad ends, On Whose Vision? And the On Choice portions that I posted earlier. This is everything I think about the medium as stripped down as possible.
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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#50 Post by czxcjx » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:33 pm

blankd wrote:@enigma and Caveat Lector
Maybe I haven't played enough VNs or I got very lucky with the draws but most of the "bad ends" I came across seemed to be fairly stand-alone endings (then again they typically had lots of death or fates worse than death but eh, name of the end I guess). Though typically the "bad" was characterized by it not being the ideal outcome. I am misunderstanding these terms or again, was I just very lucky with the VNs I read.

Additionally, how are these bad ends narrative-wise different from "bad ends" in non-VN video games? (Someone mentioned Persona earlier, so that could be used as a point of reference for the bad ends I'm talking about, Persona 4 in particular.)

The methods of achieving the endings can vary greatly, but on a simplified scale of simply looking at the major choices might help address this overarching issue.
Yep, bad ends usually only appear in action Visual Novels like Fate/Stay Night which has about 40 different 'endings' where if you do things like make the wrong move against an opponent he'll kill you and it'll send you flying back to the title screen. Some of these are even set up so that a choice you made 5 choices back would kill you and you wouldn't even know how it happened. Bad ends in non-action games include the meme-worthy 'Final Destination' ending in Katawa Shoujo.

Stand-alone endings that aren't ideal are frequently defined as 'normal ends' as opposed to 'true ends'. I think though that thinking of stand-alone endings in terms of these sort of true-falsehood is problematic. In terms of closure they all have equality, though the player will react differently to them. It seems to be getting better though since games like Saya no Uta have all three endings be 'bad' in some way. This idea of 'true' and 'normal' seems to be fixed into the Romance-themed genres where in the end there's still a stark dichotomy involved of getting or not getting the girl.
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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#51 Post by Caveat Lector » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:44 pm

@ enigma and blankd

I'd like to extend this discussion of good and bad endings to another type of ending--good ends that are not the "true end". The good end that gives you a happily-ever-after with the individual love interest, but does not properly tie up the main story's resolution which does get resolved with the "true" love interest. I'm thinking something along the lines of, say, the individual 'good ends' for Tsubaki, Kanon, and Mizuha's routes in G-Senjou no Maou. Those stand out to me as big offenders (for the record, I love this VN, but hey--we can criticize stuff we're fans of) because the meat of the story (Haru and Maou's cat-and-mouse chase, the various conflicts Maou causes, Maou's true identity, etc.) is abruptly dropped the moment you choose to pursue any romantic lead other than Haru. On the one hand, this makes some modicum of sense; but on the other, it comes off as very misleading. (Explaining why means I'm about to reveal a lot of SPOILERS in the below spoiler text)
Basically, there are several clues pointing to the possibility of Kyousuke being Maou, but at the same time, there are also enough implausibilities that would make this theory outright impossible. But the biggest clue pointing in the direction of Kyousuke and Maou being the same person? That as soon as you romance anyone other than Haru, Maou suddenly disappears, prompting Haru to drop her investigation. This points to the idea that, if Kyousuke and Maou are the same person, then Kyousuke falling in love with another girl effectively quashes his evil side and "redeems" him. Love redeems, and all that.

Now, if this WAS what it turned out to be, then it would make more sense even if it leaves some of the loose ends untied...except on Haru's route (the 'true path'), it turns out that Maou is, in fact, Kyousuke's older brother. The split personality thing was a red herring. The problem with this ties into its relation with the other routes: On Haru's route, Maou launches a massive-scale attack to drive the city into chaos with the purpose of getting his father out of prison--in fact, his father's imprisonment has been the crux of his motivation. In Haru's route, all this makes perfect sense. But on the others' routes? This never happens, Maou just drops off the face of the Earth, and there is no major city-thrown-into-chaos scene. If he wanted to be especially devious, he could've just changed his plans and targeted Kyousuke's new girlfriend to drag them both into his massive-scale plot, and then Haru could jump in to help save them both--plenty of opportunity for conflict there! Instead, the main conflict of the plot just fizzles out in favour of an okay but just not as epic route.
So yeah, I feel like that's not really a great example of how to execute a good end/route that's not supposed to be the true route. It might get hard to execute the reveal without it becoming too repetitive, but there are probably other ways it could be done. You could, perhaps, take the basic reveal but execute it differently in a manner that would build suspense regardless of whether you already knew it or not. Or maybe reveal it from an entirely different perspective.
Last edited by Caveat Lector on Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#52 Post by czxcjx » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:45 pm

Caveat Lector wrote:@ Enigma

Okay, then I'd like to debate this: Do you feel like there are any particular aspects or conventions of VN's as a medium that tend to be flawed? Not bad, not wrong, but flawed? What do you feel we could do to turn these aspects in another direction? When do you feel these flawed aspects are done right?

For me, I find the concept of good ends, bad ends, true ends, etc. to be flawed. I feel like a VN should be part of a cohesive whole, not just bits and pieces leading up to the "best" ending under the "right" conditions. Something I would love to do with the "bad end" concept is to either:
a) treat it as the VN-equivilant of a premature game over instead of an end-end, or
b) have it be the end to a major story arc as the result of a set of decisions you made that led up to that point--like it could bring closure and feel like it could stand on its own instead of needing to complete other arcs to understand it, or only reaching it as a prerequisite for other endings--and treat it as something of a tragedy. But it could only be just one ending of several potential, happier ones (or much sadder ones, if you will).

Of course, b would require for me to do a lot of programming and testing (heh, maybe I could just find a more talented programmer!), but you get what I mean. In that case, though, what could be used to motivate players to try to explore all possible endings and choices?
There's also a way to play around with the concept of good and bad ends in order to strip away the artificiality of labeling endings in such a way. Mainly have a game where the good end is an abrupt and unsatisfying 'happily ever after' while the supposedly 'bad end' just continues on and becomes its own path. Like getting the girl just ends the story there while not getting her carries on into an 'afterstory' showing the process of moving on or even shifts into a completely different genre altogether. A blatant statement that, like life, mistakes or regrets have to be borne throughout and this isn't bad in itself but could rather lead to change.
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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#53 Post by czxcjx » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:55 pm

Caveat Lector wrote:@ enigma and blankd

I'd like to extend this discussion of good and bad endings to another type of ending--good ends that are not the "true end". The good end that gives you a happily-ever-after with the individual love interest, but does not properly tie up the main story's resolution which does get resolved with the "true" love interest. I'm thinking something along the lines of, say, the individual 'good ends' for Tsubaki, Kanon, and Mizuha's routes in G-Senjou no Maou. Those stand out to me as big offenders (for the record, I love this VN, but hey--we can criticize stuff we're fans of) because the meat of the story (Haru and Maou's cat-and-mouse chase, the various conflicts Maou causes, Maou's true identity, etc.) is abruptly dropped the moment you choose to pursue any romantic lead other than Haru. On the one hand, this makes some modicum of sense; but on the other, it comes off as very misleading. (Explaining why means I'm about to reveal a lot of SPOILERS in the below spoiler text)
Basically, there are several clues pointing to the possibility of Kyousuke being Maou, but at the same time, there are also enough implausibilities that would make this theory outright impossible. But the biggest clue pointing in the direction of Kyousuke and Maou being the same person? That as soon as you romance anyone other than Haru, Maou suddenly disappears, prompting Haru to drop her investigation. This points to the idea that, if Kyousuke and Maou are the same person, then Kyousuke falling in love with another girl effectively quashes his evil side and "redeems" him. Love redeems, and all that.

Now, if this WAS what it turned out to be, then it would make more sense even if it leaves some of the loose ends untied...except on Haru's route (the 'true path'), it turns out that Maou is, in fact, Kyousuke's older brother. The split personality thing was a red herring. The problem with this ties into its relation with the other routes: On Haru's route, Maou launches a massive-scale attack to drive the city into chaos with the purpose of getting his father out of prison--in fact, his father's imprisonment has been the crux of his motivation. In Haru's route, all this makes perfect sense. But on the others' routes? This never happens, Maou just drops off the face of the Earth, and there is no major city-thrown-into-chaos scene. If he wanted to be especially devious, he could've just changed his plans and targeted Kyousuke's new girlfriend to drag them both into his massive-scale plot, and then Haru could jump in to help save them both--plenty of opportunity for conflict there! Instead, the main conflict of the plot just fizzles out in favour of an okay but just not as epic route.
So yeah, I feel like that's not really a great example of how to execute a good end/route that's not supposed to be the true route. It might get hard to execute the reveal without it becoming too repetitive, but there are probably other ways it could be done. You could, perhaps, take the basic reveal but execute it differently in a manner that would build suspense regardless of whether you already knew it or not. Or maybe reveal it from an entirely different perspective.
AkabeiSoft2's games are usually built up in some kind of engine that allows for unfolding chapters rather than straight branching paths. I think they were just trying to find a way to tack a bunch of arcs onto the main narrative. Basically they did the exact opposite for Sharin no Kuni, which was a linear narrative except that favoring one heroine over another led to different scenes within the novel and a different end although the plot was the same for a most part. Games with huge narratives like Muv-Luv Alternative do this form of variation as well.

Usually there's an inverse relation between the length and epicness of the narrative and the amount of choices one can have. A relatively short game like Cinders can have a lot of variations because its narrative and content is lean enough to bear the weight of having a lot of choices. The huge storytellers find it hard to implement choices in a better way and it seems extraneous to the flow of the narrative most of the time. Their narratives are always huge and well written enough to undercut that though.
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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#54 Post by Enigma » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:59 pm

Caveat Lector wrote:stuff
I can't help but wonder if things went down that way because they didn't plan the other routes or had other teams plotting those routes. In my opinion there's no reason to distinguish between good and true endings except to provide replay value. Unless you plan a sequel, in that case true ending it up. You don't actually have to resolve all plots. For example
a simple mention that something like Maou and Haru killed each other would suffice, or even that Haru simply disappeared and Maou wasn't seen since
keep in mind I've never played this game. The easiest way around this is to make sure every character can tell a story of thier own and have any routes focus on that story the perceived "main" story can be made irrelevant rather simply in most cases and in cases where it can't the main story and the character story can intersect and both can have some form of clousure. That's just my technique though, I'm sure there are others.

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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#55 Post by Caveat Lector » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:15 am

I can't help but wonder if things went down that way because they didn't plan the other routes or had other teams plotting those routes.
That's actually what I'm thinking. Part of me wonders if maybe the game was originally supposed to just be about Haru and Kyousuke and Maou primarily, and then someone told the writer to add in other love interests and routes to sell it as an eroge title (sex sells and all that). The second suggestion could be just as likely. There are some plot elements from the main storyline that do carry over into the other routes, but not the main plot.

That's another thing--VN's tend to have a bit of a stigma as "porn games" since a lot of VN's from Japan are basically flat-out porn with a flimsy excuse of a plot ("nukige"). We're slowly shaking that off, but it's still kind of there. And then you get titles like G-Senjou no Maou or Kana Little Sister: Eroge that places a larger emphasis on the story over the sex scenes. These tend to be more well-known (at least in Western VN fandom) than the ones that are all about sex. What does this say about the audience over here? Can these kind of games serve a purpose? Are they any different from, say, an R-rated movie with a strong plot and borderline-explicit sex scenes, just a bit more explicit?
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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#56 Post by Enigma » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:29 am

Caveat Lector wrote:
I can't help but wonder if things went down that way because they didn't plan the other routes or had other teams plotting those routes.
That's actually what I'm thinking. Part of me wonders if maybe the game was originally supposed to just be about Haru and Kyousuke and Maou primarily, and then someone told the writer to add in other love interests and routes to sell it as an eroge title (sex sells and all that). The second suggestion could be just as likely. There are some plot elements from the main storyline that do carry over into the other routes, but not the main plot.

That's another thing--VN's tend to have a bit of a stigma as "porn games" since a lot of VN's from Japan are basically flat-out porn with a flimsy excuse of a plot ("nukige"). We're slowly shaking that off, but it's still kind of there. And then you get titles like G-Senjou no Maou or Kana Little Sister: Eroge that places a larger emphasis on the story over the sex scenes. These tend to be more well-known (at least in Western VN fandom) than the ones that are all about sex. What does this say about the audience over here? Can these kind of games serve a purpose? Are they any different from, say, an R-rated movie with a strong plot and borderline-explicit sex scenes, just a bit more explicit?
Well simply put, a sex scene an "porn" are different things. Porn's purpose is to arouse, a sex scene can have many different meanings (though it will likely arouse anyway) the main difference between the two is how they're used. Also, I might say that the porn games are simply less popular here due to differences in various countries porn markets and tastes that make them less likely to sell in other markets.

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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#57 Post by truefaiterman » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:51 am

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
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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#58 Post by blankd » Sat Nov 29, 2014 1:19 am

czxcjx wrote:1. The Visual Novel is a content-oriented medium.
1.1. By content I refer to image, sound, textual rhythm and narrative.
1.2 This is opposed to a Visual Novel as a systems-based medium, based around win conditions and choice systems.
1.2.1. Wrong priorities lead to ‘gamification’ of the narrative, which are the source of many problems in the medium
Wrong priorities lead to a weaker package. VNs again, were/are part of a video game genre. Failing to suspend disbelief well enough is a failing of the genre. This is true of "regular" video games as well. eg: There is pile of ankle high rubble the MC can't get over despite having a double-jump.

Gamification is a nice way of saying that the game itself failed to justify its goals and objectives with adequate context.
2. The content is a collage.
2.1. This means that every aspect works off every other aspect. Text works with Image, Image works with Sound, Sound works with Text.
2.2. The collage can be seen in terms of Time and Space. (Too jargony? Well I can’t think of a better way to explain this part. But this is important.)
2.2.1. Time is the subjective linear experiencing of the narrative through reading, music and cinematic editing.
2.2.2. Space is the composition of the text and image within a unit of Time.
2.2.2.1 The text is a part of the image in Space but part of the narrative in Time
2.3. The merging of Time and Space creates Tempo. (An example is like the sonorous wistfulness at the beginning of Cross Channel or the frenetic confusion of the beginning of Forest)
If you want to kill your jargon, kill your quasi-legalese formatting. This "rule" honestly seems redundant. I'm sure there are VNs out there with only text and sound or images and text.
3. The end brings closure.
3.1. What does not bring closure is not the end.
3.2. Closure is, psychologically, the absolute end of the narrative.
3.2.1. If the narrative can be easily continued after an ‘end’, that is an abrupt stop rather than an end.
3.3. A closure is not a win-condition.
3.3.1 This means that closure should not be seen as a ‘reward’ and endings should not be ham-fisted into any easy morality. Does-not-get-the-girl and Gets-the-girl endings are examples of this.
3.4. Likewise a lack of closure is not a lose condition.
3.4.1. This means that a ‘bad end’ has no negative connotation outside the content. The content itself has to prove that it’s a ‘bad end’ through tragedy or clearly signposted cues.
Why can't closure be a win-condition especially in more action or logic-puzzle oriented VNs? Can't solving a riddle in a VN give greater immersion than simply saying so with text? Show, not tell. Feel, not tell.

And why shouldn't closure or "better" endings (defined by the player) be a win condition? If you're going to punish a medium for having choices with consequences why bother with the choices? Some VNs work with the dating because that is what they set out to do, it's relative to the genre that these values are decided instead of broad-brush swaths.
4. Choices involve a judgment between scenarios.
4.1. Free will is choice from a vast but finite amount scenarios.
4.2. Choice is the rising up of the self into activity.
4.2.1. In a narrowly defined set of scenarios there is no space for the self to rise, unless the choice has enough weight that it hinges everything on the self. (Choosing between loved ones over choosing tea or coffee)
This philobabble doesn't cover any new ground.

Choices "ought" to be meaningful but they don't always have to have uniform weight. It's the job of the VN to convey proper weight at the proper junctures. A VN with proper execution can make choosing tea or coffee seem like a significant decision because they are invested in the characters/scenario that this choice would make.
5. You are the player, not the protagonist, no matter how much you want to be.
5.1. When you make a choice in the game you are not identifying ‘with’ the protagonist.
5.1.1. A judgment always involves a detachment from the protagonist to think from a viewpoint larger than the narrative, that of the self.
5.1.2. What one identifies with or immerses himself into is the content of the choice and not the choice itself.
5.1.2.1. Until systems have enough complexity to sufficiently act as a Mirror of a huge enough aspect of the self, a choice always involves a detachment.
5.2. A player can only immerse himself into the protagonist by identifying with his character, which is done through content. (Even a silent protagonist that is stripped down to his core is still identified in terms of the content and consequences of the choice rather than the choice itself)
/no real comment, this is more philobabble instead of moving forwards with design.
This should be read in tandem with the With Regard to Bad ends, On Whose Vision? And the On Choice portions that I posted earlier. This is everything I think about the medium as stripped down as possible.
If you want me to read something, link me it- though even I will likely repeat my request for you to parse it down.

You double-post in this thread and earlier you were pretty poor about being concise. Cut out the fat and garnish, we're talking with meat and skeletons here.

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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#59 Post by Enigma » Sat Nov 29, 2014 1:42 am

I figure I'll say again, rules are unimportant, technique is what is important. The reason I say it again is that I noticed the OP has yet to engage with anything I've posted at all.

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Re: Rules on the Visual Novel as a Medium

#60 Post by Rossfellow » Sat Nov 29, 2014 2:08 am

I think that anyone drinking orange juice but only focusing on the jug where the orange juice came from is missing out on what drinking orange juice is really about- Drinking orange juice.

It can come in a generic plastic cylinder jug, it can come with an exquisitely designed antique jar from a master craftsman, or it can come in a futuristic dispenser that decides how strong you want your juice- But in the end, people are here for the orange juice.

All these features only add to the experience that is drinking orange juice.


Stories are like that. When it comes down to it, this is what we consume any storytelling medium for- the story it presents. All the cool features and beautiful assets we come up with serve to enrich the story we're absorbing, and perhaps each reader is drawn to a specific combination of "flavors"- But it doesn't change what we're here for. Any creative/storytelling medium does not fail by not bringing something innovative or new to the table- We just want some good orange juice.
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Sedatophobia (latin SedatoPhobia)
___(n) 1: The averse reaction to stillness, silence and/or state of helplessness.
______2: (Psychology) A state of distress where the victim's sense of reality can no longer keep up with his or her imagination.
______Related: Madness, Paranoia, Despair

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