A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

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Katy133
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A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#1 Post by Katy133 » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:02 pm

"Random idea: maybe instead of many vndevs making lots of unfinished games, they band together to make one high quality [visual novel]" - Kinjo

Kinjo gave out the idea a while ago on Twitter. Which got me thinking, since I already knew about a Sherlock RPG fangame that has literally over 100 artists working on it...

What if someone set up a game idea on Trello (or another online group organiser) and invited EVN developers (artists, writers, and possibly voice actors?) to work on the game together?

The most obvious obstacles in this idea would be: 1) The more people involved in the project, the more difficult it is to organise things. 2) The danger of several artists leaving the project. And, 3) How to unify everyone's art/writing style so the game looks nice?

But those challenges can be cushioned/got around by: 1) Having the main organiser(s)/director(s) be people who are experienced at making VNs and using Trello. 2) If each developer is given a small piece of the game to work on (eg: 1 Background instead of 6), then if they leave the project, another dev can take on the work. And, 3) Creating a game that's purposefully "hodge-podge" as a stylistic choice, making the art/writing style change (giving it a "surreal collage" look) because there's a reason for it to be that way in the game's plot.

There are several other challenges to making a VN this way (If the director is going to sell the game, would the other devs mind being "work-for-hire"s and be paid for their work as commissions? Copyright of each dev's contribution, etc.)

Would anyone be interested in this? Thoughts?
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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#2 Post by Suika » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:15 pm

I find this concept really interesting, and finding a way to organize disjointed efforts would certainly be useful.

However, I think there are a few more issues here. Sure, an experienced director would help, but organizing 100 volunteers to create something reasonably cohesive is a HUGE feat. I think the director would need experience not just directing visual novels, but organizing large groups of volunteers remotely. In my mind that's the biggest issue here. The volunteers also need to be interested in making the same type of game (but maybe the concept of "large collaboration" is enough to get people to sign on).

That being said, if someone took the time to plan things out to a fine grain, and was able to find enough people with somewhat-compatible styles, then it might have a shot. It wouldn't solve the "many vndevs making lots of unfinished games" problem, but it'd still be cool.

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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#3 Post by gekiganwing » Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:23 pm

Getting a large group of people to collaborate on a project can work. However, I have some concerns. For instance, consider the case of Missing Stars. This work-in-progress visual novel started development over four years ago. (It had a Lemma Soft thread a while back.) The group's two most recent blog posts mention some potential problems:

July 2016 update: "Somnova Studios has always been plagued with communication issues: not only in regards to simple miscommunication but with certain members being unable to be reached. ... Stronger emphasis of deadlines are being implemented. Bi-weekly voice chat meetings are used to not only have existing members check in, but also to establish certain time frames for things to be submitted."

May 2016 update: "Over the course of the last eight or so months, we've lost (or lost touch with, in some cases) writers and editors. ... Things get pretty sticky when elements get added to the story only to be removed. You get things referencing other things that aren't there anymore, and eventually you get two consecutive scenes that feel like they've come from two completely different VNs."

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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#4 Post by Enigma » Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:26 am

This has been attempted a few times on this site, I actually don't know any examples of a successful one.

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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#5 Post by KittyWills » Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:55 am

You would need an extremely strong director. With a lot of experience at making VNs and controlling people. I see no way, legally, to make it a paid game unless the director was paying everyone out of pocket and taking all sales them self.

Besides, I've observed that smaller teams seem to be much stronger and more likely to finish a game. More people does tend to mean more stuff can go wrong. =/

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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#6 Post by SundownKid » Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:03 am

I'm not sure how having many devs who can't finish a game band together will make them suddenly figure out how to finish a game. More likely they will just make a bigger, also unfinished game.

Yeah there is the possibility that a unified idea will make more people want to work on it, but it may also cause an equal number of people to lose interest because they want to work on -their- idea instead.

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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#7 Post by Kinjo » Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:49 am

So the hardest part of this, in my opinion, is actually convincing 100 people (or however many) that this is a good idea. I would be willing to bet most people would shrug it off as "totally nuts" or "no way it would work" and the few who don't probably wouldn't add up to a large enough number. And so far that appears to be the case.

Just to elaborate some more: I was looking through all of the recruitment posts and realized just how many people were looking for things to work on yet had minimal experience in the field. Very little stuff to their name and all that. Usually when someone like that tries to find a group, they find a group of similar skill level. So you get a bunch of amateurs working on things at a low level, they eventually build up their skill and become well-known and have something to their name. Or, they utterly fail and disappear forever. Such is survival of the fittest.

However, most people would agree there are a large number of visual novels that never see the light of day, primarily because visual novels are hard to make and not everyone has enough experience to see them through to completion. There are 1400 threads in "Completed Games" but 4200 threads in "Works in Progress" -- that means we are only seeing precisely one third of WIP games get finished. Two thirds of those games go right out the window. This is really inefficient.

Other collaborative projects I think have failed because of a lack of group coherence and far too ambitious goals. Ambition and team count are inversely related -- you can afford to be incredibly ambitious when you work all by yourself because you know you won't abandon the project; every consequence falls on your own shoulders and you are willing to put in the effort to carry on. But when you get a large number of people, you can't afford to be as ambitious because not everyone has that same investment. Some people might think they are doing a whole lot of work for no reason, and they'll be less interested in helping and maybe even quit altogether.

So should this happen, I suggest it be incredibly small in scope -- for a collaborative project. We've had collaborations in the past where different people would write different things, but that defeats the purpose. You collaborate to decrease the overall workload, not to expand the workload among everyone involved. So you would make it the same amount of work for a regular visual novel, but just decrease the workload among people. Think of it like a really large pizza; the more people you have eating it the more you can slice it up, and the smaller those slices will be, so it'll be easier to devour the whole thing. If you have trouble eating a whole medium-sized pizza, you might get a group of friends to help you out, but that doesn't mean you go and increase the size to a large! That defeats the point!

Anyway, I'm seeing a lot of people who are hungry for pizza but can't finish a whole one on their own. And these could be some really delicious pizzas, but two thirds of them are going to waste, because people have a hard time eating all that food.

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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#8 Post by Donmai » Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:35 am

gekiganwing wrote:For instance, consider the case of Missing Stars.
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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#9 Post by Katta » Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:55 pm

It seems like a fun idea but I can't imagine what plot/setting can explain such randomness of art and writing and how such unconsistent pieces can be united into something decent. But I'd love to take part)

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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#10 Post by Hijiri » Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:28 am

Having learned from previous attempts, let me say this:
You can not, will not, and should not do this. It will only end in infighting, people talking shit behind each other's back, someone going power mad, and even threats thrown around.
If you're lucky, you'll make one or two new friends. But otherwise, shit will eventually hit the fan and the project will die as quickly as it came.
The only regret I have is that I didn't save any logs from when LemmaTV and Dream's Dénouement were worked on because that alone would be a deterrent. Hell, the latter spiked out from the former because of infighting!
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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#11 Post by Shagwrath » Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:47 am

I've worked on a lot of different games, (though just starting making VNs) and you always need a good strong premise to build the game on, and dedicated people with specialties. Dedicated people won't give up when there's a problem, they know how to work past difficulty and put the project first. People will always fight but when you have people with the right attitude they won't let their emotions get out of control and they will finish what they start.

I hate to be another negative voice, and if you you really want to make a mass collab novel then don't let us discourage you, but be ready for challenges and struggles, and always have a backup plan.

Good luck.
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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#12 Post by Rossfellow » Wed Jul 13, 2016 1:30 am

Hijiri wrote:The only regret I have is that I didn't save any logs from when LemmaTV and Dream's Dénouement were worked on because that alone would be a deterrent. Hell, the latter spiked out from the former because of infighting!
A lot of the later pages really hurt to read.
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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#13 Post by Enigma » Wed Jul 13, 2016 2:49 am

Rossfellow wrote:
Hijiri wrote:The only regret I have is that I didn't save any logs from when LemmaTV and Dream's Dénouement were worked on because that alone would be a deterrent. Hell, the latter spiked out from the former because of infighting!
A lot of the later pages really hurt to read.
Same here, I remember another even earlier collboration project that ended up failing, I don't remember the name but it was supposed to be something kinda like Super Robot Wars...that one didn't break up due to infighting to my knowledge, it just kinda stopped.

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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#14 Post by Kinjo » Wed Jul 13, 2016 7:11 am

Hijiri wrote:Having learned from previous attempts, let me say this:
You can not, will not, and should not do this. It will only end in infighting, people talking shit behind each other's back, someone going power mad, and even threats thrown around.
If you're lucky, you'll make one or two new friends. But otherwise, shit will eventually hit the fan and the project will die as quickly as it came.
The only regret I have is that I didn't save any logs from when LemmaTV and Dream's Dénouement were worked on because that alone would be a deterrent. Hell, the latter spiked out from the former because of infighting!
True, probably the most important concern is the infighting and negative drama that could potentially arise from it.

I can easily see how a large collaboration project could lead to a lot of "shit hitting the fan" and all that. The more people you add to a project, the more that likelihood increases.

But, I mean, I think that partially depends on who is actually collaborating together. And who is leading everybody. I'm not sure it's fair to say that every collaboration project ends in disaster, so it should never be done -- look at the one about Sherlock that Katy was talking about. It's still a very valid concern, but like I said I think that highly depends upon the people involved. Sorry to hear that's the experience you had to go through.

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Re: A Massive, Collaborative Visual Novel?

#15 Post by SundownKid » Wed Jul 13, 2016 12:56 pm

Kinjo wrote: However, most people would agree there are a large number of visual novels that never see the light of day, primarily because visual novels are hard to make and not everyone has enough experience to see them through to completion. There are 1400 threads in "Completed Games" but 4200 threads in "Works in Progress" -- that means we are only seeing precisely one third of WIP games get finished. Two thirds of those games go right out the window. This is really inefficient.
That is assuming that the VN's are unfinished because of a lack of experience. It's a big assumption. There is the possibility that life circumstances simply lead to people not having the time to make a VN, which is a deceptively time consuming exercise. I would argue that is probably why most WIP's never get finished. People realize that it will take them a long time and abandon it because they'd rather do other stuff and leave the creating to the dedicated creators. You can make a WIP thread with just an idea even before you start developing the game, it's a low bar to entry and a high bar to completion.

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