How to make a KN appealing?

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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#16 Post by truefaiterman » Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:58 am

For me, the answer is relatively easy:

It has to be GOOD.

I think people get into visual novels for three main reasons:

-Art
-Story
-Music

I'd dare to say that's the order to follow, too: The story is the most important thing, of course, but people get attracted more easily with cool pictures. There WILL be exceptions, of course (Higurashi and Umineko are good examples), but colours and shines are the first impact. First impressions are important, after all.

But of course, getting three of them awesomely done is no easy feat, not even for professionals. So I'd say you'll have to manage to make two out of three great. One of them the story (the story is what will make your game memorable. People don't remember Higurashi just for the sound design, or Planetarian for the good art), and the other one the one that fits more into the story you're telling.

If it's good, and remarkable, it will be liked. It doesn't even need to have additional gameplay.
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#17 Post by trooper6 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:13 am

truefaiterman wrote: I think people get into visual novels for three main reasons:

-Art
-Story
-Music

I'd dare to say that's the order to follow, too: The story is the most important thing, of course, but people get attracted more easily with cool pictures. There WILL be exceptions, of course (Higurashi and Umineko are good examples), but colours and shines are the first impact. First impressions are important, after all.

But of course, getting three of them awesomely done is no easy feat, not even for professionals. So I'd say you'll have to manage to make two out of three great. One of them the story (the story is what will make your game memorable. People don't remember Higurashi just for the sound design, or Planetarian for the good art), and the other one the one that fits more into the story you're telling.

If it's good, and remarkable, it will be liked. It doesn't even need to have additional gameplay.
Some people may have only those three main things. But that is by no means all people.
There are people who do not care about music at all and play their VNs with the sound off.
For me, Interactivity it a major thing that gets me into VNs (which is why KNs are not really my thing). And art isn't my #1.
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#18 Post by Tempus » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:20 am

Green Glasses Girl wrote:^Agreed. I guess what can be said all around is that KNs have to go a step further than traditional VNs.
Isn't it strange how this is the other way around with text-only works? That is, an okay novel is generally preferable to an okay game book. The presence of images and audio seem to invert this preference. That's my observation anyway. Maybe lots of people out there like game books over a novel of comparable quality...
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#19 Post by Omega_93 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:32 am

It saddens me to say, but I feel like the western market is much more inclined to VNs that have more of a gameplay element. Gamers in general, outside of our little niche of course, tend to not give much of a shit about the story. A common complaint I see on VNs is "not enough choices".

I dunno, I guess it's not impossible for a KN to do well. As people have said, it'll just have to be really bloody good to catch anyone's attention.

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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#20 Post by trooper6 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:59 am

Tempus wrote:
Green Glasses Girl wrote:^Agreed. I guess what can be said all around is that KNs have to go a step further than traditional VNs.
Isn't it strange how this is the other way around with text-only works? That is, an okay novel is generally preferable to an okay game book. The presence of images and audio seem to invert this preference. That's my observation anyway. Maybe lots of people out there like game books over a novel of comparable quality...
I prefer an okay novel to an okay KN. Why? Convenience and ease of reading. I can take my novel on the plane or the beach...most of the Renpy games are not on mobile so I can't play them if I'm not in front of my desktop. Even if they were on my iPad, I'd have to worry about battery life. So Okay Novel beats Okay KN. Okay Graphic Novel beats Okay VN. Mostly because I have found even great KNs to have not as great art in not as great a quantity as Graphic Novels and not as great writing as okay novels...and really not as great music. Art/Story/Music all sorts of average (if that), without interactivity to make up the difference.

Now, would I take an okay novel over an okay VN? That I don't know. Okay VNs have interactivity...and the novel doesn't. There are still locational issues. I can't play my VN in bed right before I go to sleep, so novels win there...or on the beach, etc. But if I'm at home and could choose between novel and VN? I'd probably go to the VN first.
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#21 Post by papillon » Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:16 am

Omega_93 wrote:It saddens me to say, but I feel like the western market is much more inclined to VNs that have more of a gameplay element. Gamers in general, outside of our little niche of course, tend to not give much of a shit about the story. A common complaint I see on VNs is "not enough choices".
I find this statement confusing, although I might be misinterpreting it.

Most of the time when we talk about gameplay elements in VNs, we are talking about things other than choices, and wanting choices in a VN does not equate to "not giving a shit about the story". You can want choices because you care enough about the story to want to be involved in it.

I really enjoy being able to see stories from different perspectives. That's one of the things that draws me to VNs as a medium.

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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#22 Post by Mad Harlequin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:33 pm

trooper6 wrote:But that isn't necessarily a problem...it depends on what the game is trying to do. I mean, Pac-Man doesn't have "quality writing"...but that isn't the point of the game.
Forgive me. I must have been unclear. Obviously it depends on what the game's trying to do, and obviously I'm not talking about something like Pac-Man. (Why is it that my posts always seem to be fodder for straw men?) Anyway, my point is that I've seen a ton of visual novels---and games in general, but I'm focusing on VNs for this discussion---that do great things with their other elements, but don't apply the same standards of quality to their writing, which is why I posed my earlier question.
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#23 Post by Anne » Wed Jun 10, 2015 2:49 pm

do great things with their other elements, but don't apply the same standards of quality to their writing
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#24 Post by trooper6 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:50 pm

Mad Harlequin wrote:
trooper6 wrote:But that isn't necessarily a problem...it depends on what the game is trying to do. I mean, Pac-Man doesn't have "quality writing"...but that isn't the point of the game.
Forgive me. I must have been unclear. Obviously it depends on what the game's trying to do, and obviously I'm not talking about something like Pac-Man. (Why is it that my posts always seem to be fodder for straw men?) Anyway, my point is that I've seen a ton of visual novels---and games in general, but I'm focusing on VNs for this discussion---that do great things with their other elements, but don't apply the same standards of quality to their writing, which is why I posed my earlier question.
Let me only speak of VNs lest you think I am straw manning you again (I used Pac Man not as a straw man but as a clear example of where writing is not of primary importance).

Not all VNs have a focus on the writing. If I am playing a VN whose focus is not writing I will not expect it to have the same quality of writing as a VN whose focus is writing. Not all VNs self-conceive as novels with pictures. If a VN is doing complicated thing with stats or puzzles or visuals or whatever else...then it will make sense that the writing might be average rather than stellar. My forgivingness has nothing to do with not caring about writing.

I will be forgiving of a VN with average writing if the focus of the VN is some other element, like excellent art or gameplay or sound.
I will be forgiving of a VN with average art if the focus of the VN is some other element, like excellent writing or gameplay or sound.
I will be forgiving of a VN with average gameplay if the focus of the VN is some other element, like excellent art or writing or sound.

Very few works of art are excellent in all elements. I don't apply different standards to writing than I do other elements. I recognize that in all likelihood some element (which might be writing, might be art, might be gameplay, is likely to be average while others are likely to be excellent depending on the game maker's priorities.
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#25 Post by Mad Harlequin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:41 pm

trooper6 wrote:Very few works of art are excellent in all elements. I don't apply different standards to writing than I do other elements. I recognize that in all likelihood some element (which might be writing, might be art, might be gameplay, is likely to be average while others are likely to be excellent depending on the game maker's priorities.
Just to be clear, I'm not saying that a work only matters if it's excellent in every aspect, or that I'm unforgiving if it's flawed, though I realize I may be coming across that way to some. And my question was not directed at anyone in particular. I posed it to the forum, or to thin air. It doesn't really matter.

It wasn't my intention to call into question the merit of any individual work, or the skill sets of any individual creator. I only wanted to comment about observations I've made---if you want the details, I'm talking about what I've seen in writing-rich visual novels. The original post, after all, refers to KNs. And yes, I know that not all VNs are grounded in writing. But that's something for another discussion.

This is what's driving my original query:

What happens if a key portion of a work becomes an afterthought? And if that neglect continues, do you do an overhaul or put lipstick on the pig and hope nobody notices? Which option do you think is more commonly chosen?
Last edited by Mad Harlequin on Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#26 Post by trooper6 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:51 pm

Mad Harlequin wrote: What happens if a key portion of a work becomes an afterthought? And if that neglect continues, do you do an overhaul or put lipstick on the pig and hope nobody notices? Which option do you think is more commonly chosen?
Think there is a difference between average and afterthought.
I am forgiving of an average element.
I am not so forgiving of some substandard afterthought.
A key portion of a work shouldn't be an afterthought.

So...for example, if a person don't think much about music, if you neglect it, if it is an afterthought...I think it better not to include music as a key portion of the VN. Or hire someone to do the music.

If a person doesn't care about writing, I'd prefer them create a game where writing is minimized or not important rather than produce a game with cruddy writing. I think it is possible to create a VN where writing is not a key element...but it has to be conceived as such from the beginning. If someone crafts a really cool experimental game that is all about the art and gameplay and writing isn't present or it is minimal because it isn't a key element? No problem!
If someone is a bad writer, doesn't value writing, or writing is an afterthought, and they make a VN where writing is a key element...and it is bad? Then I won't be happy.
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#27 Post by wifom » Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:17 pm

The first and only kinetic novel I purchased (to get rid of ads) was Summer Snow.

The things I particularly found that compelled me to continue reading:
  • The music was beast. If you listen to the soundtrack/background music - it is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous. Something worthy of a top notch anime like Air.
  • Voice Acting - self explanatory. There were only 3 characters, but every single line, including narration (MC talking to himself) was voiced. It was nice, kind of like an audio book.
  • Art - The artwork was super, duper pretty! I loved looking at it while I read the text. AND the quantity was endless. There were a lot of CG's. They also included sprites with patterned backgrounds for moments with CG's.
  • Chapters - There were chapters for different time throughout the story. The main character was recollecting memories about his high school life, even though he was a business man. So the chapters helped organize the events (because it kept hopping back and forth). ALSO, they provided a 2nd version, from the girl's point of view and how SHE felt about HIM and her background. Absolutely adored this!!
  • Feels - The story was cliche and overly done, but if you make the protagonist really relate-able and someone you can understand, it can get me right in the feels and then I can't stop reading.
Hopefully that helps! :D
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#28 Post by Donmai » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:54 pm

How to make a KN appealing?
If I could give it a simple answer, I would say: do it well.

I believe that's the curse of Lemma Soft Forums: from time to time we will see threads that seem to be reincarnations of similar dead threads, created for the recreation of KN haters and/or 3D haters. The discussion and the "I don't like that" and "that should not be done this way" posts are all the same. It can be fun, anyway, if we take it with a little dose of sarcasm.

Not wanting to hijack anything, but I would like to make another question:
How to make a VN appealing?
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#29 Post by trooper6 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:21 pm

Donmai wrote: Not wanting to hijack anything, but I would like to make another question:
How to make a VN appealing?
For the record, I don't hate KNs, I'm just not their ideal audience and tend to avoid the bulk of them. That said, I enjoyed your The One In Love very much...but then it did the things that would make a KN appealing to me as a non-KN fan. It was short. It had excellent writing and art, it had an under-represented protagonist, it was a genre I enjoy. If it had been longer, I would likely have become restless. *But* I'm not the ideal KN audience, so a KN maker needs to decide who their main audience is. And it is just fine for her to not worry about audiences like me...certainly not worry about audiences who are actively hostile.

How to make a VN appealing?
I'd say some of the things, on principle, but perhaps flipped, that I said to the first question. Making a
VN, you may not be able to get the KN audience. They tend to expect a much higher level of writing, sprite animation, art direction, and/or music. The sort of minimal sprite usage, and generic GUIs that often happens in VNs won't be enough for discriminating KN readers.

But if you decide you don't want to chase a KN audience, you can be a bit less excellent in writing, art, music...but you had better be really good with your implementation of choice and interactivity...that is what people are expecting from your VN, after all. Only one or two cosmetic choices will be forgiven in a KN, since that isn't the point and the KN has other assets. Few and/or shallow choices in a VN can irritate a lot of players who expect more interactivity. The less excellent, innovative, and compelling your gameplay and interactivity is more excellent your other elements will have to be to make up for it.
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*Currently Doing: Coding of emotions and camera for the labels--On 5/10
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*Next Next thing to do: Set up film animation
*Other Thing to Do: Do SFX and Score (maybe think about eye blinks?)
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Re: How to make a KN appealing?

#30 Post by Kailoto » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:48 am

Every person has their own idea of what an appealing VN is, and you can't please everyone. It's more effective to focus on a specific subset that you want to please, and then do your damnedest to align with their interests. And let's not forget that most creators already have their own ideas of what makes a VN good, and will naturally gravitate towards creating those types of experiences.

That said, just for the heck of it, I prefer VNs that make the most of the choice aspect. Since it's (usually) the only game mechanic, I love stories that integrate it into the very plot and make it invaluable to the narrative. In my opinion, the best VNs are stories that can't be told as well in other mediums. Extra points if the formation of different narrative paths is explained as part of the setting. But that's just my personal preference.

I also have a soft spot for lengthy and well-written galge (I'm talking 30+ hours), something you don't see in the English language that much... the smaller, more art-centric works are good, but part of me longs for the sprawling epics filled with conquerable love interests that Japan gets on a monthly cycle.
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