NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

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Charuru
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NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#1 Post by Charuru » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:45 pm

This thread is about discussing:
NovelStream - All the details are in that link.

The platform is still being worked on, but I'm here to get some feedback.

This is the engine that was discussed more than a year and a half ago on this thread:
http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4530

Even back then the engine was very future looking. But it was hard to bring out the richness of the idea with the browser capabilities of the time. In that thread you'll see discussions on things like saving and loading using cookies, and some silly things about flags. Since then, the tech and media world has drastically changed. The cloud concept is now fully proven, with not just Google and Amazon being pioneers, but the old guard of tech like Microsoft and IBM joining in. We also have amazing new technologies like Comet and CSS3 and HTML5 and WebGL.

We have Facebook and Farmville showing us the amazing potential for browser based apps + social.
We have the now astounding importance of mobile, and a powerful buying audience (who's used to paying) that's making many people developers millionaires.
We have the iPad, which is basically the single best VN reading experience out there. The visual novel can be the 'killer-app' for the iPad.

NovelStream is designed to take advantage of the cool stuff of this decade, and I think these confluence of factors make NovelStream worth your attention. I welcome VN writers to join the cloud revolution.

Over the next few weeks I'll be converting many visual novels both from earlier versions of NovelStream and ones that publishers are giving me to the latest version. If you have something for me or want to discuss anything, or offer me a partnership, you can contact me on my email @ charuru2009 gmail.com or skype me at charuru2009.

PS: Also what do people think about the idea of setting aside some money to help spur visual novel creation in the west. Do you think half a thousand dollars would help encourage people or make it easier for people to find team mates.

Thanks for reading.
Last edited by Charuru on Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#2 Post by papillon » Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:52 pm

Have you read all the recent kerfluffle with someone else's game delivery system? Just warning you. :)

Your "comparison" screen with RenPy looks incredibly petty, since it's quite a long list, many of the items on which are really the same thing given a different name, and failing to focus on the actual needs of users who would want to do such a comparison. Instead it comes across solely as trying to show off, as does the "BETTER THAN RENPY!!" quote you have on the front.

If your product is actually good, let it sell itself a bit more, don't dig into the attack so quickly... especially when anyone familiar with renpy games will very quickly feel like your games have far fewer features. (Not necessarily that they DO have far fewer features, I haven't done an in-depth comparison. But certain things stand out right away as being lacking, like text speed options and rollback or even readback.) THe more you try to make yourself sound like you're the greatest thing ever, the more nits other people will pick.

Also, openly bashing Zynga/Farmville is unprofessional. It may be a popular opinion, but it's not a good one to put on your business website.

I notice you're trying to mix commercial products with fanfiction, some of which include underage sex and/or incest. How confident are you on the legal ramifications?

The entire source for the games appears to be viewable in the HTML...
Also what do people think about the idea of setting aside some money to help spur visual novel creation in the west. Do you think half a thousand dollars would help encourage people or make it easier for people to find team mates.
That amount of money isn't going to go very far; in the vast majority of cases that's less than the budget of a single game. Creating a successful platform would do a lot more to spur creation than giving away a few bucks.

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#3 Post by fortaat » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:18 pm

Haha, that's great. You picked the most volatile time to make a clusterfuck, and point out the advantages/disadvantages of NovelStream.
I'm going to bed, so I don't have time for an in depth review. Here's four quick points:

1.
site wrote:"Ever heard of FarmVille? It is a completely inane game (it's really quite bad)
I laughed, and agree with you, but you should take it out.
It looks bad.
EDIT: Pappilon said it better.

2.
You ported Crescendo. Since you liked directly to that page, I suggest pointing it somewhere obvious, as it could lead to unpleasant misunderstanding. I suggest a adding "taken from Crescendo" to the blind reading tag on the first screenshot (the ipad one).

3.
You don't have an FAQ. Fix it, even if most of the answers are "contact us".
I have many question - the first that popped in my mind is what slice of the pie do you get? what's your general business model?
There are more, but I'll let others ask them.

4.
In case of emergency, use this:

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#4 Post by Topagae » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:30 pm

Looks cool. If I wasn't so wary of Zynga I'd comment on your opinions on it.
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#5 Post by jack_norton » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:31 pm

Some suggestions: remove the automatic purchase, it's going to be a trouble. What if you get a flood of people wanting refunds? Refunds aren't free, costs money.

Pro: I checked some games and was impressed, the engine looks very good, but doesn't work on IE8. I know is a CRAP browser, but still well spread :)
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#6 Post by dstarsboy » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:42 pm

@fortaat There's a pricing entry on the home page that indicates that they take 30% of any commercial game sales. Non-commercial is free.

@papillon I think comparison charts like this are basically the 'standard' in online business models. I've seen hundreds and they all suffer from the flaws that you mentioned but that's an accepted format. I'm certain Py'Tom can make an equally long pro-Ren'py comparison chart that's just as biased without much thought. I'm just saying, there's nothing wrong with it because it's exactly what's expected from that page, that's all.

NovelStream definitely looks nifty and seems like a similar engine to Tapego's (browser based) although this website is well done. Also, with Tapego's, I think his staff has to handle the porting, this one was created with users in mind.

Overall, not bad, very easy to use and jump right in to (unlike Ren'Py) but infinitely less flexible than Ren'Py. I've seen Ren'Py games of all sorts of GUIs and with hundreds of different embedded concepts (although only about 5% of it's users can make these types of games), most of the games on NovelStream look identical so far.

I'm a little surprised at how many VN engines are popping up everywhere with such a small niche market in mind. Do people expect this type of game to suddenly explode into the spotlight one day? I thought people were over that notion by now.
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#7 Post by jack_norton » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:46 pm

dstarsboy wrote: Overall, not bad, very easy to use and jump right in to (unlike Ren'Py) but infinitely less flexible than Ren'Py. I've seen Ren'Py games of all sorts of GUIs and with hundreds of different embedded concepts (although only about 5% of it's users can make these types of games), most of the games on NovelStream look identical so far.

I'm a little surprised at how many VN engines are popping up everywhere with such a small niche market in mind. Do people expect this type of game to suddenly explode into the spotlight one day? I thought people were over that notion by now.
Yes, very little customization. It's probably impossible, would require custom JS coding though, so not really their fault (they could make such system but would be more a language system than an easy to use engine).
The 30% is actually good though, a very low rate.
I agree on what you say, I've already said in other thread. I know sales figures of VN (simply because I made many, and talked with other people) and are NOWHERE near the first casual games that started the big casual portals back in 2003-04... :mrgreen:

Overall though, might be a quick way to get your game on those platform if has very little customization.
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#8 Post by sabata2 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:50 pm

Are you focusing more on the Multi-Browser functionality or Multi-Platform?

And we can attest. Watch yourself with this topic.

I ask because my group is trying something similar, and based on what you're focusing on, we may become competitors or helpful allies.
NovelStream definitely looks nifty and seems like a similar engine to Tapego's (browser based) although this website is well done. Also, with Tapego's, I think his staff has to handle the porting, this one was created with users in mind.
Not to hijack, but ours is the same way.

*edit*
I can't find any Options in your VN Editor. (ie. chose A to go there, choose B to go here)
Is it like Umineko where there are no choices, or like F/SN that has different endings based on choices?
Last edited by sabata2 on Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#9 Post by papillon » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:53 pm

dstarsboy wrote: @papillon I think comparison charts like this are basically the 'standard' in online business models. I've seen hundreds and they all suffer from the flaws that you mentioned but that's an accepted format. I'm certain Py'Tom can make an equally long pro-Ren'py comparison chart that's just as biased without much thought. I'm just saying, there's nothing wrong with it because it's exactly what's expected from that page, that's all.
If it were shorter, I'd agree. It's the massive lengths it goes to that make it seem insecure to me. :) I'm pretty sure the comparison charts I've seen for other products were much more focused about making their point.

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#10 Post by Wintermoon » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:32 pm

I have to say that my first impression is overwhelmingly negative.

Feature comparison:
  • Streaming versus download. This is a huge win for Ren'Py. I like being able to read when my internet connection is down. I like being able to make a backup. I like being able to store visual novels from different sources in the same directory. I like being able to show visual novels I played in my youth to my grandchildren, long after all current websites have long died off.
  • Social networking features. All I saw was a "respects my privacy" feature for Ren'Py that was missing for NovelStream.
  • The editor. I like plain text. I like being able to use my own editor. I like being able to, for example, run the game through my own spell checker. Most of all, I like having the game on my own local file system for revision control.
  • The editor also isn't very good. Nested scroll bars, unintuitive interface, and at some point the interface just stopped responding.
Experience of trying to play Narcissu:
  • Right-clicking brings up my browser menu.
  • There's a menu at the bottom that appears and disappears seemingly at random. (Right-clicking seems to bring up that menu, but also brings up the browser menu. And when I click on the page to remove the browser menu, the story advances.)
  • No way to step back when I accidentally advance the story without reading. Such as when clicking to remove the browser menu.
  • Full screen mode isn't. I still see the browser border, and the windows task bar below that.

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#11 Post by PyTom » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:48 pm

There are a few errors in the NovelStream vs Ren'Py comparison page. (http://visualnoveldai.com/novelstream/n ... m-vs-renpy)

For the delivery concept field, you list "Download from a website." for Ren'Py. That's incorrect - downloading from a website is just one way to distribute a Ren'Py game. With Ren'Py, you can hand someone a cd, or even sell it at comic market.

Also, it's misleading to claim that S3 has 99.999999999% reliability. That's the probability of your data not being destroyed by S3's server. (As opposed to being destroyed by a bug in NovelStream, or your web browser, or...) According to Amazon, while they claim to be 99.99% reliable, but only guarantee 99.9%. The latter means 45 minutes of downtime per month. That analysis only considers downtime caused by Amazon. If one's internet connection is slow or unreliable, that downtime can be much higher.

Has the chrome web store opened up yet? Or is this prospective?

Several of the features, like "Integrated Database", "Share Doujins", etc are non-Sequiturs. It would be like dinging NovelStream because it can't read email.

I think it's pretty unfair to claim that Ren'Py is lacking support for "Collaboration". Katawa Shoujo, for example, has a 17 person staff. In fact, I'd claim that Ren'Py's support for collaboration is better, as we can use standard version control tools like Subversion, Bazaar, Git, and Mercurial. While it's true Ren'Py is lacking "Integrated Version Control", it does give people that want it access to these world-class version control systems.

Ren'Py can convert from other engines. (For example, VNDS.)

Ren'Py has support for unlimited fonts. (Including things like Truetype collections, Sfonts, BMfonts, and MudgeFonts)

Ren'Py supports jpg, gif, and png images, along with a few minor formats noone in their right mind would use. (Like targa.)

Ren'Py supports mpeg1, mpeg2, XviD/DivX, and Theora movies. (WebM is coming eventually.)

To claim that NovelStream is "Free" with "No Restrictions" is misleading. It's free for non-commercial use only. If someone wants to make a commercial game with it, you're taking 30% of their sales, and tying them to your platform.

I'd argue it's also fairly easy to pirate NovelStream games. It took me all of a minute to find the script for Crescendo. The script had the full URL to the images inside it. (I can post the URLs if given permission, but I think it's more polite not to.) This is using the Developer Tools built in to my copy of Chrome, without any special programming. In general, DRM is an impossible proposition.

(Edited to capitalize NovelStream properly.)
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#12 Post by jack_norton » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:53 pm

I just want to add that making an engine, then going to the forum of a direct competitor engine to list a comparison table to promote yours and bash the others (despite if is effectively better), is in general not considered a good/smart move :D
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#13 Post by Topagae » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:56 pm

Man, tom should give lessons on how to take people down a notch.
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#14 Post by PyTom » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:07 pm

Topagae wrote:Man, tom should give lessons on how to take people down a notch.
I reject that I'm trying to take anyone "down a notch". I do want Ren'Py to be treated fairly, and I don't think that comparison is a fair one.
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#15 Post by PyTom » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:11 pm

Speaking as an Admin here:

Ren'Py is a perfectly valid target for criticism. Please don't report messages simply for criticizing Ren'Py.
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