CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#16 Post by CarlyJane » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:28 am

Cg as in animation or as in 3d characters like still images in replacement of 2d characters sprites?

I think it's fine I don't mind 3d visual novels, if you see the shading people use with daz studio and blender it's beautiful really. I think it gets a bad name since people make a lot of "naughty" games with them and they're usually...not good. Oh I saw this one girl on DA she had a daz studio character it's gorgeous. If you could do something like that and you're good at shading or 3d modeling you could make all kinds of things. And like someone said above good story goes a long way.

Here's DA page (she doesn't make games she just renders I do believe.) http://raindropmemory.deviantart.com/ar ... -331183598

If she made a vn using that style I bet she would do very well.

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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#17 Post by Mammon » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:06 am

CarlyJane wrote:Cg as in animation or as in 3d characters like still images in replacement of 2d characters sprites?

I think it's fine I don't mind 3d visual novels, if you see the shading people use with daz studio and blender it's beautiful really. I think it gets a bad name since people make a lot of "naughty" games with them and they're usually...not good. Oh I saw this one girl on DA she had a daz studio character it's gorgeous. If you could do something like that and you're good at shading or 3d modeling you could make all kinds of things. And like someone said above good story goes a long way.

Here's DA page (she doesn't make games she just renders I do believe.) http://raindropmemory.deviantart.com/ar ... -331183598

If she made a vn using that style I bet she would do very well.
CG, not CGi. We're talking about a full-screen drawing that temporarily replaces the backgrounds and sprites. In a lot of games there's a CG gallery that allows you too see all the art of that game, that art is the CG that we're talking about. I understand the mistake though, it does get a bit confusing for people who don't know the local slang.

About 3D sprites, I personally don't mind them. They allow for more poses and better Creative Common sources. But like with anime it will probably be an aesthetic preference for most people to like the 2D art over this. But if people could do it like Donmai does it, I bet those complaints would quickly vanish into thin air.
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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#18 Post by Sonomi » Fri Nov 11, 2016 12:04 pm

Mammon wrote:It really depends on your project. If you can really display a scene as a single CG without making it seem like there are things about the CG that should change based upon the conversation, it can work. Let me turn two movies into VN:

-My Dinner with Andre. A movie that is just two people talking about stuff in one place. It would be very much possible to incapsulate this into CG and it would actually work better this way than Backgrounds and Sprites.
-Any other movie. Doesn't really work.

It's all about the story you have. I tend to categorise ideas for stories in my head as 'VN' and 'not VN' as well, considering anything that requires too much visuals to be at least manga format (if not movie or anime) and deem it undoable in a VN format. Even if the story is complete and I feel like I could make it, if it's not VN material it's not VN material.
That is an interesting viewpoint. Just to make sure I understand you properly, are you saying that VNs with too many visuals should be implemented in a different medium? I think the largest draw of the VN is the ability to have choices lead to different outcomes.

Taking One Night Stand for example, that could easily work as an animation or a short considering the amount of art that they put into it. I think it might be different, but deviating from the norm a little can sometimes produce good results. :)

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@CarlyJane

Oh, sorry! I meant 2D CG, as in a picture you may get on a good ending or such.
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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#19 Post by Mammon » Fri Nov 11, 2016 12:40 pm

Sonomi wrote:That is an interesting viewpoint. Just to make sure I understand you properly, are you saying that VNs with too many visuals should be implemented in a different medium? I think the largest draw of the VN is the ability to have choices lead to different outcomes.
Kinda. I mean more that at a certain point people have to be realistic about their projects. If I come up with a story, start to list the amount of scenes-moments-actions that would require a CG and would come up with several within a single scene or over a hundred over the entire project, I'd say there are too much CG needed to make the project feasable. Even if your first estimate wouldn't be only half of the CG that you would eventually need, if your project relies on Visuals or animation too more heavily...

Aspirations are great, but reality also needs to be accounted for. If you can't make it happen, aim lower.

However, this is more a matter of restricting one's projects rather than switching to other formats. You're right, VN do have the advantage that they allow interactivity through choices, and they also allow much more dialogue/internal thinking than a manga/comic/webcomic. So if you DO have the same amount of CG, a VN would be better than making a webcomic in some regards. But in others it wouldn't be as good. It's all a matter of what would work best.
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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#20 Post by Sonomi » Fri Nov 11, 2016 2:03 pm

@Mammon

I understand. Maybe what I really want isn't a large number of CG, but more versatile sprites that mesh with the background in some way.

Laniessa mentioned Eden* earlier, a VN that composes the sprites and backgrounds in a near seamless manner. This is along the lines of what I want to do, I believe, and I suppose it would generally be easier to change sprites that way rather than drawing straight into the environment. I just want to somehow achieve a dynamic look.

I guess working on the poses would be a good start. If I'm not using CG for specific scenes, do you think it would be ok to just draw interacting character sprites? I mean, instead of moving their separate sprites closer together, maybe drawing an entirely separate sprite that shows their relative positions...? Or, instead of using a front perspective for all scenes, showing a low angle or birds eye view?

It's not that I want my VN to heavily rely on visuals; there is a specific story that I want to tell. Personally, I have put down beautiful visual novels because of the writing (so I find importance in all aspects). On the other hand, I do want to create nice art. Umineko puts a lot into its sound, but there's still a notable narrative there. The three primary parts of a VN are music, art, and writing. I'm not particularly good at any of those, so I want to do my best in all areas.
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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#21 Post by Mammon » Fri Nov 11, 2016 4:09 pm

Between my last post and this one I played 'project Deamon', a demo that recently got a thread on this forum, and saw that it was the exact thing we were talking about! No sprites, all CG!
Granted, it doesn't feature dialogue and it's rather short as of now, but it is what we were discussing.
Laniessa mentioned Eden* earlier, a VN that composes the sprites and backgrounds in a near seamless manner. This is along the lines of what I want to do, I believe, and I suppose it would generally be easier to change sprites that way rather than drawing straight into the environment. I just want to somehow achieve a dynamic look.

I guess working on the poses would be a good start. If I'm not using CG for specific scenes, do you think it would be ok to just draw interacting character sprites? I mean, instead of moving their separate sprites closer together, maybe drawing an entirely separate sprite that shows their relative positions...? Or, instead of using a front perspective for all scenes, showing a low angle or birds eye view?
In this case, CarlyJane's CGi would actually be a good point here; 3D sprites lend themselves well for making a great variety of more expressive poses that can be added to your VN. I know that ComiPo would be an engine to get these sprites with, but I'm not sure if there are better/free examples around because I know little about this topic I'm afraid. And, while this would require a great deal of effort to do yourself, I could give 'the knife and the traitor' as an example for a game with 2D sprites that interact with each other beautifully.
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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#22 Post by Sonomi » Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:20 pm

@Mammon

I'll have a look at those projects to see how they approached their style. :)

I don't know about the CGi. I have some experience with Blender, but I don't think I'm good enough to make characters with it just yet. And I think I may lose a bit of the charm of having 2D sprites. Take 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors for instance. In the first game they used a very stylized 2D art style with 3D objects in the point in click portions (which actually turned out quite well). In the sequel, they moved to 3D models. The game was still nice looking, but the facial expressions and poses were not as expressive as the former 2D drawings were, in my opinion.

For now, I'll try a few things in 2D and limit the amount of CG to what's actually needed or appropriate. I should be thinking in terms of CG per route rather than per scene.

Also, if anyone happens to come across interesting sprite styles like Eden* (e.g. varying sizes, colors, poses) please feel free to share them here. Thanks!
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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#23 Post by Parataxis » Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:42 am

I am a very visual person, so I tend to have what I would consider "a lot" of CGs. There's really no price limit since I am the artist, and I try to be practical where possible, but I can definitely tell I am a bit excessive. My first short project Scribbles was about 10 minutes of play on average for each of the 4 routes. There were 26 CGs.

That was an outlier sorta, since everything was hand-drawn in Pen so the CGs where not colored and didn't take that long to make, but it's not like I am much better for anything else. In my longer project, the first hour of gameplay (The demo) has potentially 15 CGs--a few with two slight variations! Now a bunch of them are designed to be reused at later points in the story and the number of CGs drops precipitously after that heavy establishment section, but still! That's a lot. And it's not like CGs get rare after that. The second hour-long section has 6 CGs, the 3rd has 8 and so on.

That said, the majority of play time is still definitely sprites on a background and I can't imagine a higher frequency of CGs than I have without it seeming excessive and schizophrenic. You mentioned you have 2 CGs for every scene--that seems like a lot to even me. But I suppose it would really depend on the story you are trying to tell. My scenes tend to move around a lot, so maybe I am just imagining a "scene" as something shorter than you mean, but I think that my best advice is to listen to your instincts but think critically about what your story actually NEEDS.

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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#24 Post by Kominara » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:40 am

In all honesty, it doesn't really matter.

Of course, for certain scenes (hint: begins with a h and ends with an entai), you'll definitely need CGs, but for anything else, they're really just a bonus. That being said, if you really want to show off your wealth and/or artistic talent, making an entire game made up of CGs will definitely accomplish that.

I don't really care or pay attention to the CGs in the VNs I play though, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#25 Post by Sonomi » Wed Nov 16, 2016 3:08 am

Parataxis wrote: I am a very visual person, so I tend to have what I would consider "a lot" of CGs. There's really no price limit since I am the artist, and I try to be practical where possible, but I can definitely tell I am a bit excessive. My first short project Scribbles was about 10 minutes of play on average for each of the 4 routes. There were 26 CGs.

That was an outlier sorta, since everything was hand-drawn in Pen so the CGs where not colored and didn't take that long to make, but it's not like I am much better for anything else. In my longer project, the first hour of gameplay (The demo) has potentially 15 CGs--a few with two slight variations! Now a bunch of them are designed to be reused at later points in the story and the number of CGs drops precipitously after that heavy establishment section, but still! That's a lot. And it's not like CGs get rare after that. The second hour-long section has 6 CGs, the 3rd has 8 and so on.

That said, the majority of play time is still definitely sprites on a background and I can't imagine a higher frequency of CGs than I have without it seeming excessive and schizophrenic. You mentioned you have 2 CGs for every scene--that seems like a lot to even me. But I suppose it would really depend on the story you are trying to tell. My scenes tend to move around a lot, so maybe I am just imagining a "scene" as something shorter than you mean, but I think that my best advice is to listen to your instincts but think critically about what your story actually NEEDS.
26 CG in ~10 minute routes is quite ambitious, I might say. Like you, I am a visual person and the artist of this project, but it seems I had taken a mindset entirely opposite of your practical methodology. :oops: I am indeed attempting to operate on that basis now. My scenes are actually very long, which makes me wonder whether I should split or rewrite many of them.
Kominara wrote:In all honesty, it doesn't really matter.

Of course, for certain scenes (hint: begins with a h and ends with an entai), you'll definitely need CGs, but for anything else, they're really just a bonus.
I see. I'm not quite sure I'll end up writing such scenes at this time, but I understand your point. There are times when a player might expect a special image to capture the significance of an event. I also think of it as a bonus when I see an unexpected CG in a visual novel.
Kominara wrote:That being said, if you really want to show off your wealth and/or artistic talent, making an entire game made up of CGs will definitely accomplish that.
My, how I wish that were the case! :wink: I've come a long way, but I still have a ways to go. There is no budget for this VN outside of my own time.
Kominara wrote:I don't really care or pay attention to the CGs in the VNs I play though, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.
No worries, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.
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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#26 Post by Parataxis » Wed Nov 16, 2016 11:13 am

Sonomi wrote:
Parataxis wrote: I am a very visual person, so I tend to have what I would consider "a lot" of CGs. There's really no price limit since I am the artist, and I try to be practical where possible, but I can definitely tell I am a bit excessive. My first short project Scribbles was about 10 minutes of play on average for each of the 4 routes. There were 26 CGs.

That was an outlier sorta, since everything was hand-drawn in Pen so the CGs where not colored and didn't take that long to make, but it's not like I am much better for anything else. In my longer project, the first hour of gameplay (The demo) has potentially 15 CGs--a few with two slight variations! Now a bunch of them are designed to be reused at later points in the story and the number of CGs drops precipitously after that heavy establishment section, but still! That's a lot. And it's not like CGs get rare after that. The second hour-long section has 6 CGs, the 3rd has 8 and so on.

That said, the majority of play time is still definitely sprites on a background and I can't imagine a higher frequency of CGs than I have without it seeming excessive and schizophrenic. You mentioned you have 2 CGs for every scene--that seems like a lot to even me. But I suppose it would really depend on the story you are trying to tell. My scenes tend to move around a lot, so maybe I am just imagining a "scene" as something shorter than you mean, but I think that my best advice is to listen to your instincts but think critically about what your story actually NEEDS.
26 CG in ~10 minute routes is quite ambitious, I might say. Like you, I am a visual person and the artist of this project, but it seems I had taken a mindset entirely opposite of your practical methodology. :oops: I am indeed attempting to operate on that basis now. My scenes are actually very long, which makes me wonder whether I should split or rewrite many of them.
To Clarify, there are 26 CGs for 40 minutes of play, each route had fewer CGs closer to 10. The game is short and structured like this

Intro (5CGs) -> Binary Choice A/B
Choice A (1 CG) Binary Choice 1/2 | Choice B (2 CGs) Binary Choice 3/4
Ending 1 (5CGs)|Ending 2 (4 CGs) | Ending 3 (4CGs)| Ending 4 (3 CGs)
total (11 CGs) | total (10 CGs) | total (11 CGs) | total (10 CGs)

As the artist it is really tempting to think there are no restrictions on how many CGs you use, but it seems to work for me to try and draw up a list of the minimum number of CGs a section could get away with and then think hard about why each is necessary. It's much easier to add CGs that you didn't think you needed at first than to to make yourself cut things you've worked hard on when they don't seem to fit.

As for the scene length, it might not be a bad thing, it just depends on what sort of story you're telling. If, say, you are writing a mystery where there are lengthy discussions that take place in a single location, then having 1-2 CGs over like 10 minutes of Gameplay is totally fine and not even dense. My scenes tend to be 3-4 minutes of gameplay and there are definitely some that have 2 CGs or even 3 or 4, but there are also a bunch that don't have any at all. I find that when you are really looking at the story's needs, CGs tend to be unevenly distributed tending towards the beginnings and ends of stories. That is at least my experience.

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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#27 Post by Laniessa » Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:32 am

I saw 999/VLR got mentioned, and I think I should mention that the reason for the switch was budget - as in 3D was cheaper - than 2D, I think! It came up in an interview.

Mikeinel's deIz has some nice integration (shading/extra poses, I think? It's been a while), though not as seamless as Minori games.

Other games to check out, maybe?
https://sasquatchii.itch.io/a-day-in-th ... e-of-bread
https://aviala.itch.io/our-war-everlasting
https://ludeshka.itch.io/hierofania-2
https://loxrain.itch.io/shadows
http://kidalang.com/anoctavehigher/

Break Chance Memento by Cyanide-Tea also has really nice base variations that match with different backgrounds *u*

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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#28 Post by Sonomi » Sun Nov 20, 2016 3:43 pm

@Parataxis

Thank you so much for the explanation and break-down. Planning CG ahead is going to be of benefit to me, especially now that I've realized my initial outline is not entirely what I wanted after all. Ah, I've never been good at creative writing anyhow. At least I didn't go ahead and draw all of the scenes that wouldn't be...

I lucked up recently and came across 4 manga drawing books. Maybe that will help me too. I do have mental images already of certain scenes that I want/need to show, so I'm going to make a list of those, try to figure out my pacing (and story!) as you've done, and go from there. :)

@Laniessa

Hmm. Really? I suppose I can see that being the case, but I guess I had only assumed that the change in Virtues Last Reward was just a stylistic choice. On another note, Tokitowa has 2D character sprites, but a navigable 3D environment. That game could have made a great visual novel, in terms of style. I wish I could try such an approach, but animation of that sort is out of the question for this project.

I appreciate you taking the time to find those for me! They all have such differing art styles and I find each of them inspiring. I've decided to download them, so I'll see how that goes as well. Hierofania 2 looks like it has a lot of CG from the trailer.
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Re: CG in visual novels - Too many or too few?

#29 Post by kistnerelizabeth » Sun Nov 27, 2016 1:11 am

The way I see it- you should make as many as you feel your story needs and then read through your script and look at the CGs for each scenario and see if they take away from the scene or add to it.

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