Fox Lee wrote:It's fine to tell the player that Eileen is mad,
No, it is not. That is degrading into telling rather than showing, which is bad writing regardless of the presence of supporting assets. If Eileen is angry enough, the content of her dialogue alone (or her act of initiating a silent treatment) would suffice to convey this. Her anger need not be explicitly identified, even in a text-only format. The point of "show, don't tell" is to not treat the reader as though they are too stupid to pick up on subtlety or draw their own conclusions.
Okay fine - substitute, "It's fine to describe Eileen's facial expression/bodily response/whatever to show that she's mad". That was not the point of my statement; my point was that you can show it with words OR you can show it with visuals, and both are appropriate in a medium which by definition
includes visuals. The choice of which to use should be based on which will be more effective at that point in the story, not on a rule that says your writing will start sucking if you dare to rely on a picture.
The presence of visual or audio elements does not excuse the writer from having to do his job properly.
"Doing your job properly" involves using your medium effectively. If you're writing for a VN, your medium contains more than just text. If using the precise things that are unique to the medium inherently undermines an author's ability to write well, what's the value of choosing that medium in the first place?
I see this attitude that visual/audio assets can be used as a substitute for writing as being disturbingly prevalent among VN enthusiasts, and the writing typically suffers for it. The example you provided is a demonstration of this phenomenon. Because you considered that visuals would simply make up the difference in a hypothetical part of a scene you wanted to convey, you stopped thinking critically about how to write properly, and asserted that it would be fine enough for someone to simply state that "Eileen is mad."
Yeah, no I didn't. I used a shortcut to make my point, because I wasn't trying
to write an engaging part of a story - I was trying to write a forum post on a 5-minute work break. That has no bearing on what I'd write (or consider acceptable to write) in the totally different context you're suggesting.
When I work on a VN, I'm always
thinking about how to write properly - but I'm also thinking about when the use of sprites, text effects, animations and other components would better convey the information, or provide more emotional impact, or get a laugh because the reader took a beat to realise what just happened. Writing is
the most important component, absolutely, but it has little value in moments where it's not the most effective way to tell the story.
Relying on visual/audio assets in this way thus degrades the capacity of the writer to check their own text for quality, as they are expecting to be able to lean on these other assets as a crutch.
It's not "a crutch" to use an inherent part of the production medium to convey your message effectively. A comic book isn't automatically worse if it doesn't complement an illustration of a character looking angry with a caption masterfully describing her expression; some scenes require written descriptions, some require only dialogue, and some work best with visuals alone. Our medium isn't a movie or a comic book, sure, but it's not a novel or a storybook either. It's something in between, and it has unique properties because of that (and the implications of "show, don't tell" vary with the medium).
With a VN the focus is weighted towards the text, to be sure, but you still have a medium where all three cases (best with narration, best with dialogue, best with only visuals) can be true. Knowing how to distinguish between those cases is a valuable skill, if not quite as important as writing skill. On a multi-person project you could say it's more the job of a director than a writer, but that doesn't diminish its importance - just transfers it to a different team member.
Obviously you prefer a VN to play more like a novel with pictures, which is fine. I'm not asking you to like anything more or less. But VNs that play more like a comic book or video game cutscene, and make effective use of the visual medium as part of storytelling, are also
perfectly valid. Some people prefer them. I certainly find them more interesting and enjoyable than prose-heavy VNs, and it particularly annoys me when a VN needlessly narrates things I can clearly see happening on screen.
What's frustrating is that I don't totally disagree with you - amateur games in many narrative genres often prioritise visuals more than they ought to, and there's definitely something to be said for being mindful of that. To take that into consideration isn't bad advice! But your argument that writing to take advantage of visual assets necessarily
undermines the quality of the writing is too much of an assumption. It's unfair to those skilled writers who use visuals thoughtfully and effectively, and it ignores all those unskilled writers who focus entirely on their text (I'm sure you've also read plenty of prose-heavy VNs that were not especially well written). So how on earth can you know
if the approach taken by any individual author is the reason for their apparent skill? Okay, I guess you've observed a lot of prose-light VNs where you though the writing was particularly bad or lazy, but it's presumptuous to blame the use of visuals for that. Would you assert that writers of scripts or comic books are inherently worse writers than writers of novels, because their medium necessitates reliance on visuals?
What bothers me is the amount of disrespect you're throwing on people who prefer a different style - which you call a "substitute" or a "crutch". You insist that taking advantage of the visuals constitutes an "excuse for skimping on the writing", as if the only reason somebody would make full use of their medium is because they're inadequate somehow - but using all the components of your medium effectively is a skill, not a shortcut.