What makes a VN good/bad?

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What makes a VN good/bad?

#1 Post by poopzlord » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:36 pm

Hi everyone! I've been a long-time lurker on this forum (like, I've been here for years man), but this is my very first post so be nice to me hahah

Anyway, I've been working on a visual novel of my own for quite some time now, and that has honestly got me thinking about what people even want in a VN. More specifically, how important is it to...

1) have a logo for the game?
2) have amazing art for the characters/background?
3) be part of an actual game-company (or, alternatively, start one yourself)?
4) avoid clichés? (I'm personally really fond of clichés but it seems like everyone else hates them :'( )

And which is more important to you guys; the art or the story? The character designs or the background art? The lore or the character interactions? Would you immediately dismiss a VN if it's set in a high school? Are you put off by weird-looking games (like hatoful boyfriend)?

I'm sorry if that was too many questions and/or the questions seem a bit broad - I'm really just looking for an all-around description of what you think makes a good game tbh haha and I really hope you guys want to help a brotha out!

Oh, and if you guys want to follow my progress you're more than welcome to check out my page at http://poopylord.tumblr.com/tagged/VNlog ! <3

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Re: What makes a VN good/bad?

#2 Post by MaiMai » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:22 pm

Yeah, these questions are fairly broad because there kind of isn't one good answer for each of them unless you're making a product to be sold. And even if you're able to achieve success in more than one category, you're not going to please everyone even after trying to perceive preferences from a limited pool here of VN hobbyists/players/creators.

For me, it's about coherence and consistency in all of those categories you listed. A decent logo and good art is good presentation and helps get your story across more easily. A story, even with common tropes and cliches should be executed well or else there's no point in reading a VN even with nice art, at least for me.
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Re: What makes a VN good/bad?

#3 Post by Kokoro Hane » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:41 pm

Hey there, welcome to Lemmasoft!

In regards to your questions about how important is to have...

1) have a logo for the game?
It's definitely a good idea, much like a game's title--a logo is a nice way to draw attention to your game. Even just some fancy font with effects can do the trick. Though even without a logo, even just having an interesting title is key enough.

2) have amazing art for the characters/background?
Pretty art is definitely attractive and draw players in for the sheer eye-candy, but there are many games with simple/rough art that are just as good, if not even better, simply because their presentation and story is so fantastic and despite its art it gives it a certain "charm". For me personally, art isn't too big an issue. Even games that use pre-mades can be nice.

3) be part of an actual game-company (or, alternatively, start one yourself)?
I wouldn't say this is really all that important. If you're going to make games regularly, it's kinda neat to have a studio name established for people to remember you by. But again, I find this a non-issue. Even if you're just a one-person team credited only by your name (or username), it's totally fine.

4) avoid clichés? (I'm personally really fond of clichés but it seems like everyone else hates them :'( )
This is always going to be hit or miss for some people. And what is cliché to one person might be new for another. It also depends on how you use the cliché, is it super cliché or are you putting your own spin on it? I for one don't mind clichés all that much, they can be fun and even in my current (largest) project I use tropes and clichés to my advantage and have fun with it, coming up with my own twists in how to use it to hopefully make it a little more fresh or even simply downright roll with it for a bit of satire. To be honest, if someone makes a game with worries about avoiding these, you'll either fall into it somehow or create something not all that good--I think what is important is natural flow, if you think you have a good idea--go for it!

And answering your additional questions....
- I definitely think the story is waaaay more important than the art! Yes, good art is a great eye-catcher but a catchy title and synopsis will always draw me in more so than how it looks. Not that good art isn't important, but also what one considers to be "good" can be very subjective. For example, even unpolished and rough art I feel has a certain charm to it that adds to a game. This statement is probably not true for all players, on top of that art-style can come into play. A game can have great art but the style might not be my cup of tea, it's not bad but since it's not my style I can't see it as "good" either. Art helps set the mood, but a good story is what will truly immerse you.
- Character designs are probably more important to me than background art. A character's design can signify their personality annd no matter the skill level, how a character looks is one of the first things I look at in terms of art even before the event CGs.
- While I love lore and it really enhances a world, I have to say character interactions. I'm one that really enjoys a story in which is character-driven and that the world is explained through the characters. The lore or world itself is just the backdrop to provide interesting situations for the characters to live. How a character narrates, how they interact, their relationships... these are the things for me that determine a good story.
- No, I don't mind if a VN is set in high school. Sure, it's been done a million times in a million different ways but I personally don't mind the setting so long as it'll provide me with fun and interesting characters! I especially love unique school settings, like say a space school, demon hunting, fantasy, etc etc.!
- Weird looking games can be off-putting. While I did say that art quality doesn't matter that much to me, the style of hatoful boyfriend is a bit too out there for me... then again, just the story itself was a pretty odd concept lol so it's not something I have an interest in all together. But, like I said, art is subjective and for some--they probably find it to be really cool and unique.

In conclusion--
What makes a good VN is, in truth, subjective. There are some general things, yes, but it all comes down to one's taste and whether or not you, the developer, are enjoying yourself. I think one of the most important things is you like what you are making, that you're making it for fun or to inspire or to share and not to simply please or pacify certain tastes that might not be your tastes. Make the game you want, but also be prepared that it may not be for everyone. Some will dismiss it, some will flatout hate it, BUT! You will also find someone who will absolutely love it, and that's what makes game making worth it! Remember it's about having fun and sharing something. My 2 cents~

Good luck with your work!
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Re: What makes a VN good/bad?

#4 Post by juunishi master » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:05 pm

I'll try answering your questions ...
1) have a logo for the game?
If you mean app icon, I kinda think it's important, but it's not the most important thing in deciding if a VN good/bad.
It's to make your VN more distinctive and recognizeable, especially if you make for mobile devices.
Imagine having a default icon in your phone/tablet ...
2) have amazing art for the characters/background?
Not "amazing", but "decent", IMHO.
I personally dislike a Gakuen Handsome because of their ridiculous characters' appearances. :evil:
It's good to have "amazing" art, because we're talking about visual novel, but it's not what makes VN good/bad.
(I heard some people praise Gakuen Handsome because of its story, while I, on the other hand, refuse to play/watch it because of the art.)
3) be part of an actual game-company (or, alternatively, start one yourself)?
I can guarantee that you don't need to be part of a game company to make a great VN.
4) avoid clichés? (I'm personally really fond of clichés but it seems like everyone else hates them :'( )
Euh, hard to say. I'm the kind who tolerate cliche up to a certain point. It's kinda hit and miss for my case.
Probably could help you with the cliche matter? https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors ... k-for-you/


Just a ... suggestion? Advice? I don't know what this is called.

You gotta love your works first before you can have people love it. That's the most important thing, IMHO.

We can tell you what we like, but it doesn't mean you have to fulfill all of them in order to create a good VN. :wink:

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Re: What makes a VN good/bad?

#5 Post by puppetbomb » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:10 pm

1-2) A good logo, app icon and visuals are really helpful when it comes to marketing, but doesn't necessarily have a connection to being a good visual novel

3) There are pros and cons in making a game for a company. The biggest pro is that the company has resources (ie: skills and programs) readily available around you. The con is that there will be more red tape, and more pressure to make a game that is first and foremost profitable. Because in the end, a company needs to make money in order to pay the employees.

Technically you can be a one-person company (Artist Alleys at conventions are basically pop-up shops). The upside is that you can call the shots and can get exactly what you want. The downside is that you may not have the expertise to do what you envision, the production time will be much longer, and it may get lonely working by yourself.

4) I have a firm belief that every idea can work, depending on how it's done, cliches included. If you have five ideas for a project, you may find that two of them may not work with your main idea for various reasons. Whether or not people have the acumen or willingness to cut them out will come with time.

Quirky visual novel scenarios (like Hatoful Boyfriend) are good for marketing. At the very least it will catch people's attention, and that already is a huge hurdle many games have trouble overcoming.

My advice for your current situation is similar to Kokoro Hane's; don't worry about other people, have fun, and get your VN out there :3

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Re: What makes a VN good/bad?

#6 Post by gekiganwing » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:24 am

poopzlord wrote:More specifically, how important is it to... 2) have amazing art for the characters/background? ... Are you put off by weird-looking games...?
If I think that the art of a visual novel is distinct or exceptional, then I will be more inclined to pay attention to it. However, if I don't find the story (and gameplay) to be compelling in an hour, then I will probably stop reading it. Two specific examples:
* When I started Amnesia: Memories, I had positive expectations. It had somewhat offbeat art, and I had already enjoyed Otomate's titles Hakuouki and Sweet Fuse. Unfortunately, I just did not like the blank slate protagonist of A:M. Furthermore, some of the choices early in the story seemed more like blind guesses than trying to understand the story's logic. The other characters weren't bad. However, they weren't compelling enough to get me interested in the mystery of who the protagonist could trust. I stopped reading after about two hours.

* I started Storm Lover Kai knowing that it was slice-of-life with some gameplay. I was hoping to enjoy the experience. However, I didn't enjoy the first hour or so all that much. Only one of the characters was memorable, and the others seemed to be introduced awfully fast. The gameplay experience wasn't too difficult to understand or dull, but it did not hold my interest. It did not seem to give the player any goals to achieve.
poopzlord wrote:4) avoid clichés? (I'm personally really fond of clichés but it seems like everyone else hates them
That's a good question. A couple things to consider...

* Let's say the cliche is "all the characters meet each other in an inn." This concept has been used quite a bit in tabletop RPGs, and it exists in other media. If you include this notion in your story, then you'll need to think about how you want to approach it. Consider looking at TV Tropes' list of various things that writers can do with this idea.

* If there's an idea that you think is unique, then keep in mind that it might have been used in a well-regarded published work which you haven't already experienced. There's a chance that the idea might have been employed in a once-famous soap opera or detective story which was written decades ago. (This happened when Moore and Gibbons were creating Watchmen.)
poopzlord wrote:Would you immediately dismiss a VN if it's set in a high school?
It's just a setting... but it is kind of a well-worn idea. I'll write a couple of thoughts about what *could* make a school setting memorable:

* The location leaves an impression. The reader gets detailed information about the time period, terrain, community, and so on. I write this as a person who attended a private school that had a rules code and an interesting history, as well as a college that was in a fascinating area.

* Theme and tone. Do you want the story to focus on mundane realism? Interpersonal drama? Humor or zany antics? Does the story fit into a category of genre fiction?

* Pacing: how fast do events happen?

* How much of the conflict is internal, and how much is external?

* Where do many scenes occur? Does the story show events in routine classes? Is the focus on what the characters do before/between/after classes? How much of the story happens outside of a school environment?

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Re: What makes a VN good/bad?

#7 Post by TheJerminator15 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:16 am

1) I wouldn't say a logo is necessary, especially for a first project. However, the necessity of one becomes more profound if you're creating a commercial VN. This is because of things like ease of recognition, branding etc. This is mainly because commercial games will be expecting to generally have a higher level of professional qualty, if you get my meaning. So whilst I personally don't see logos as that important if you're going commercial I highly recommend it.

2) Remember that a key point of visual novels is the visual aspect. However, there are numerous cases of popular VNs with awful art that are widely recognised as some of the best in the medium. Higurashi for example, and whilst the art isn't as bad in Tsukihime I have seen many people complain about the visuals for that game as well (though granted, it was made in 2000/2001 and was free). Honestly, this sets a precedent that the audience in general cares more abou the story than the art. But, having high quality will make it more appealing to audiences or easier to garner interest on the store page in the first place. So, you have to find the balance that suits you. If you are using a distinctive art style that also helps to separate it immediately.

3) You don't need to be part of one at all. I believe I remember readng somewhere that Carpe Diem was made by a singular person and that is a very short and bittersweet VN that does what it does well. Heck, it was so well received it successfully managed to crowdfund what is essentially a larger version of the story (something I look forward to). Pervert and Yandere is another good one that was made individually by Mammon as well and that is a good VN. It isn't necessary, but if you're like me and hate creating digital art (I can draw on paper decently) and programming makes you want to punch yourself working in a group is always going to provide that advantage of members playing to their strengths. Another good advantage of game companies/groups is that they can take advantage of the brand name as well naturally. Love in Space or Winged Cloud are the best examples of established groups that have built up a reputation for their name. EDIT: As some people also mentioned you can alternatively work individually under a moniker which works exactly the same in terms of name recognition.

4) Cliches themselves aren't bad. It's simply how they're used. After all, cliches are cliches for a reason, they work well. Take character archetypes as an example. You want a tsundere? Add in a tsundere. But if she's simply going to remain a cliche one-note tsundere with that being her only defining trait, the cliche is awfully used and people aren't going to care about her when there are far better crafted tsunderes out there with depth to them. You're just using the cliche for the sake of it being a popular cliche and aren't expanding upon it. Same with high school settings (be it battle schools or regular slice of life etc.). Are they overused? Yes. Doesn't mean you can't effectively use one. Maybe the main character goes to a battle school and wants to be the best and has talent, but puberty in that world affects the powers and abilities of people, so he is going through a slump and must now come to terms in how to deal with losing his streak. Simple idea off the top of my head, but if expanded upon it could probably become a nice take on a cliche setting. If I ever stop procrastinating and finish a story. >:^(

Since I'm a writer above all else, I care more about the story. Character designs are more important than background art to me. For the lore or interaactions question, it honestly depends on the type of story and world building etc. that you're trying to acclomplish. if it's a slice of life then obviously I couldn't care less about lore. If it's some space epic where different stories span across a single universe/multiverse (I always end up using this damn example) like the Nasuverse I'd much prefer in world consistency with the established rules and lore.

I'm not put off by weird looking games, as Hatoful Boyfriend showed that even pigeon dating can provide a compelling story. I'll be honest, there is a lot of high school centred VNs so I do tend to be wary of them. However, I won't immediately dismiss it and will always try it out first (since there are typically demos I usually try those out to see if I am invested).

Good luck on your project!
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Re: What makes a VN good/bad?

#8 Post by SkinMedley » Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:02 am

1) Well, I don't really have good eyes for logos, so I guess it doesn't matter much to me. I honestly prefer something like an art cover? (I think that's different?)

2) Honestly, I think this is important. I mean, a good first impression is important. If I like the art style, I will look more into the game before downloading. I might sound shallow saying this haha.

3) This sounds like a reputation kinda thing. I like a good indie game, but I would like to know what others say about it. And it's easier to find the game's review if it has a company.

4) Only if I feel like it? Like, sometimes I want to watch a drama that has the arrogant-rich-boy-and-kind-poor-girl cliche lol.

This is a hard question. It's like you have to choose looks vs personality. I'd say both are important. I'd say... looks first then personality? I mean, it's hard to get to know someone when you are not attracted to them. It's fine if they look plain but they can't be unattractive? And when that's out of the way, you judge their personality next. AND THAT IS WHEN PERSONALITY IS EVERYTHING. If they look nice but not their personality, that just won't work.

But what if they are... very unattractive? Well, sometimes you take that leap of faith to get to know them. AND WHEN THEIR PERSONALITY IS SO GREAT YOU JUST DON'T CARE ANYMORE. You might suddenly think their unattractive feature cute too.

Um... am I even talking about games right now? Yeah... I don't know how to explain this so I can only compare with... this (so many contradictions what). tldr, story wins over art.

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Re: What makes a VN good/bad?

#9 Post by SinaAzad » Thu Jul 06, 2017 4:34 am

1) I only care about the Logo if I like the work, so the answer is "meh"!
2) Definitely a Huge part of the work and once of the most important aspects of a "VISUAL" Novel.
3) In general, no, unless there have been great works from the same dev team ... The key studio is a good example.
4) well cliche is good, cliche can win, that's why it has become a cliche! but think about it twice, why did Katawa Shoujo become popular, it was another dating sim with high school theme! but the Disability part made it different and interesting, Or Quartett! it was about music. Rewrite ? The mystery part. Not going for "cliche" is both good and risky!*

*At the end, the most important part is, How well the story is written... No 4 and 2 can boost it or drop the pleasure! you can kinda forget about No 3 and even number 1!
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Re: What makes a VN good/bad?

#10 Post by SundownKid » Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:08 am

And which is more important to you guys; the art or the story?
Personally, the story for me is more important than the art. However, I also won't pay attention to a game if the art style doesn't appeal to me.
The character designs or the background art?
Character designs, easily, but again if the backgrounds are too terrible there might be a problem.
The lore or the character interactions?
For me, both are equally important. I'm a huge lore buff, so I like when writers don't just hand wave the lore. At the same time, a game without good character interactions is just boring.
Would you immediately dismiss a VN if it's set in a high school?
Certainly not. That said, I'm old enough that a game set in high school is a net negative. I don't really resonate with all the teenage drama stuff. It would have to be "out there" and unusual to get me to want to play it. If it has no special premise beyond just being in high school, and it has teenage angst, I'll probably run far away.
Are you put off by weird-looking games (like hatoful boyfriend)?
In the case of Hatoful, yes. However, other "weird looking games" i really enjoy, like Danganronpa, for example. It's very situational depending on how the art resonates with me.

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