VN's for smartphones: Portrait or Landscape?

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MisterHarold
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VN's for smartphones: Portrait or Landscape?

#1 Post by MisterHarold » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:43 pm

Which format do you prefer when playing visual novels on phones: Portrait or Landscape?

That means if it's portrait, the characters are bigger but the background is smaller and for landscape, the opposite.

Pic for reference
portrait:
maxresdefault.jpg
landscape:
moe-ninja-girls-2 (1).jpg
also no auto-rotate, you just have to pick from the two

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Re: VN's for smartphones: Portrait or Landscape?

#2 Post by parttimestorier » Wed Jul 22, 2020 2:16 pm

I haven't played many mobile VNs, but I think that it probably depends on the kind of story. If you want to show a bunch of characters at once a lot of the time, then landscape seems more practical. But if it's something that focuses on the player character interacting with one other character, then maybe portrait mode with just the one sprite visible would suit that better.
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Re: VN's for smartphones: Portrait or Landscape?

#3 Post by Jackkel Dragon » Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:52 pm

Personally, it doesn't matter to me which is used as long as it's used well. One of my favorite mobile visual novels uses portrait mode. However, in my experience, people have told me that my portrait mode visual novels would be better in landscape mode. And when I port existing games to Android, I use landscape to keep the aspect ratio manageable.

I may come back to add some samples from my games when I get a chance, but for now here's a good reference for portrait mode presentation: link
Basically, this game uses thinner character portraits and text bubbles to make the best use of screen space. It ends up being a really great example of why visual novels don't have to be landscape mode or single-character games.
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Re: VN's for smartphones: Portrait or Landscape?

#4 Post by foleso » Sat Jul 25, 2020 2:14 am

Portrait for sure. My hands get really fatigued from holding the phone in landscape for long periods of time. If it's in portrait, I can just play it while lying down without much difficulty.

It also is much more comfortable on the eyes for me, personally. A lot of VNs in landscape have the character sprites very small (usually a byproduct of just porting the PC VN with no other modifications) and it's difficult to see differences in facial expressions. Additionally, since I'm much more used to portrait UI on mobile, it's harder for me to fiddle around in settings since I'm not as used to it.

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Re: VN's for smartphones: Portrait or Landscape?

#5 Post by SinaAzad » Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:40 am

I think both are fine to be honest, they are both comfortable on phone and I dont think anyone would mind either of those, but allow me to look at it this way,
what if it is a hit on the phone and you decied that now you want a pc port?
if it is on landscape the it is gonna be supper easy to port right? so maybe considering that matter it would be better to go with landscape.
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Re: VN's for smartphones: Portrait or Landscape?

#6 Post by Jackkel Dragon » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:32 pm

SinaAzad wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:40 am
I think both are fine to be honest, they are both comfortable on phone and I dont think anyone would mind either of those, but allow me to look at it this way,
what if it is a hit on the phone and you decied that now you want a pc port?
if it is on landscape the it is gonna be supper easy to port right? so maybe considering that matter it would be better to go with landscape.
Another option would be to have the game art and UI display differently depending on the platform, which is something that at least Ren'Py supports. An example:
screenshot0219.png
screenshot0218.png
This allows PC players to get the landscape orientation and UI options they expect, while also allowing the game to run well on phones in portrait orientation. I'm guessing that one could even make a game that works in either orientation on phones, but I've not tried that myself yet.

Lastly, you could make a game that has very simple UI and art in either orientation to make it possible to have the game on either platform. That said, any game that isn't a bullet hell or arcade port is going to have a hard time convincing players to play a vertical orientation game on PC. The original game that the game in my screenshots is a sequel of used to be in vertical orientation for both PC and mobile devices, but there were enough complaints about that decision that I decided to switch to the current system. And if you make a landscape orientation game that has no differences between mobile and PC versions, you run the risk of buttons being too small on mobile devices or too big on PC.

As far as the original question, I believe I may have already mentioned that I'm fine with either. As long as everything is composed well, I feel like either can work well. What I do NOT like is when a game is mostly in landscape/widescreen orientation and aspect ratio, but only shows one character at a time at the very center of the screen. This is part of why I resist when people tell me to stop using non-widescreen aspect ratios. On the other hand, portrait orientation has trouble with more than 2-3 characters on the screen, depending on how the character art is drawn. The standard front-facing or 3/4 angle is designed for landscape composition, so portrait-mode games may need to tweak their art if they have more than two characters on the screen at once.

Hopefully some of that helped... I feel like I got rambly. Short version: either can work for me.
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Re: VN's for smartphones: Portrait or Landscape?

#7 Post by akio93 » Mon Jul 27, 2020 12:07 am

Portrait in mobile. Much easier to hold the phone.

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Re: VN's for smartphones: Portrait or Landscape?

#8 Post by Imperf3kt » Mon Jul 27, 2020 1:56 am

Jackkel Dragon wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:32 pm
... one could even make a game that works in either orientation on phones...
Working on it :P

A more pressing issue than orientation, in my opinion at least, is aspect ratio.
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Re: VN's for smartphones: Portrait or Landscape?

#9 Post by eezergoode » Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:07 pm

Regardless of platform, I always use 16:9 aspect and landscape mode. I'm not a fan of portrait VNs, to me the interface feels too confined, and I like having the lengthwise real estate to show more characters at once. BUT I don't make them strictly for mobile, I make cross-platform. So less hassle moving from PC to mobile. If you are making strictly for mobile, I can see portrait working, if you design specifically for it. The only changes I make when going from PC to Mobile is to make the buttons and sprites a little bigger, which tends to cut off a little of the lower part of the sprite to keep them framed properly.
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