NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#31 Post by sabata2 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:21 pm

Rather pointless question, but I'm curious.

What's the average age range of your team? Cause I have to admit the engine looks snazzy. I just want to know how much experience there was behind the people who built it.

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#32 Post by Jake » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:25 pm

Things I liked/was impressed by:
- The 'Lights Out' mode is nice.
- Saves as URLs is a nice, convenient feature.
- Being able to just jump in and play VNs, and even mess around with the editor without having to register on the site is a big plus.
- Getting involved with JList was probably a good move.


On the other hand, I don't really like the idea of web delivery of VNs too much, as I said in your previous thread. I share Wintermoon's misgivings about being able to play when my 'net connection is slow or down, and I don't like the interface restrictions necessary when using a browser as an application container (lack of right-click, pre-determined functions for a lot of keys, potential problems with back button, etc.). I can see that some people would benefit from being able to play anywhere, but the only really big advantage seems to me to be mobile devices.

When you're talking about the PC desktop you're competing directly with Ren'Py (and from your comparison article it seems you're well aware of this), which does approximately everything, and just in terms of simple usability features you're a long way behind at the moment - personally, I wouldn't be interested in writing for a platform without at least readback, and I'd strongly prefer Ren'Py-esque full rollback; transitions seem to be limited to just scenes, not introducing character sprites; fullscreen doesn't actually superimpose over the browser controls and OS bar, etc.

I did have a play around with your editor, and... I'd give the same advice to you as I gave to Sin when he started his Novelty editor a couple of years ago: when you're writing a story you want to be spending most of your time typing, not fiddling with the mouse... right now, it seems practically impossible to do most things in your editor without using the mouse and/or tabbing an awful lot. There'll always be a hardcore who want to write in script directly, but... unfortunately, your script language is frankly horrible. :/

To compare some code between your engine and Ren'Py:

Code: Select all

;h;c set dialog name Kozue
"-I'm here now right."
;h;c set dialog name Masaru
"Anyway Kozue. I tried to call your cellphone, but nobody picked up."

Code: Select all

ko "-I'm here now right."
ma "Anyway Kozue. I tried to call your cellphone, but nobody picked up."

Code: Select all

;s /effect:fade /uid:scene1 /name:Prologue
;is http://visualnoveldai.com/files/vn/images/1/crescendo/bg100ba2.jpg  

Code: Select all

label scene1:
  show bg classroom with dissolve
Ren'Py easily wins out on readable, maintainable, typeable code. Forgetting missing niceties, this is probably the biggest thing that would prevent me from wanting to write for this engine. In some places you have random symbols, in other places you're being unnecessarily verbose... it doesn't look like a nice or an intuitive language to write in. Ren'Py has its problems in this regard as well, especially with indentation...


I'm also concerned about being able to version-control and maintain the scripts locally... it's all very well saying that it's possible to import scripts from your HDD, but this increases the turnaround time on testing changes; in Ren'Py, for example, I can be testing a game and notice a bug, flip to the text editor, make a small change, go back to Ren'Py and hit Shift-R, the game reloads with my change and I can re-test. What's the workflow for making minor changes with NovelStream?

On that note:
Charuru wrote: You can also use Subversion, Git, etc with NovelStream. You can track changes on your version control server, and use an updating importer to sync a xml file with NovelStream. However I think having the live updating will allow teams to release much faster. In short, the collaboration we offer is really a step beyond.
I strongly suspect that as it stands, working on everything on your site will make development - team or otherwise - much slower than the equivalent Ren'Py development, due to a combination of clunky editor and lack of features. (Now, it's undoubtedly the case that someone who has never done any development before will be able to pick up Ignition and get something doing something quicker than they could in Ren'Py... but I think that once they get used to the tool, there's only so much that they can speed up just due to the mode of operation, while once someone gets familiar with Ren'Py they can more or less churn script and direction out as fast as they can type, so a team with a little experience is going to get faster with something like Ren'Py faster.)

If you want to call your offer 'a step beyond', you should really include all that functionality - like version control - which is available outside of your system. It's all very well saying that you can use a VCS outside of NovelStream, but that misses the point of your system. Personally, speaking as a developer, I don't see any real reason to prefer to work in an all-online shared environment which does less stuff than the tools I have on my desktop do.


Since all the media assets are downloadable from your website via URLs in the source of the page for each VN, do you have any plans for making it difficult for people to rip other people's graphics off? If I had to guess, I'd say amateur game developers are probably more worried about this than straight-up piracy, and it's an area that Ren'Py does have a slight advantage in.



And since we're talking about a web-delivered platform, I have the same question that I had for the last web-delivered VN platform I saw: how are you dealing with the delivery of assets to the user? Do you do any kind of selective/staggered pre-loading, do you expect the user's browser to download individual files as and when they're needed, do you load everything up front...? If you're pre-loading everything, are you grabbing the whole novel's worth of data or just the first scene, should users expect delays between scenes, etc. ... ?
Charuru wrote: Also the point of interest is Social, and that's what I was really focusing on.
This is one thing that I'm still not clear on, despite having read a few pages on your site; what exactly do you do that's 'Social'? Are we talking all that obnoxious "posting status updates to people's Facebook pages and giving them bonuses if they can get other people to play" stuff that Facebook games seem to all indulge in? You mention 'Achievements' and 'GamerScore' on your features list; are you referring to the XBox Live things with those names (in which case: have you dealt with everything already or would people have to negotiate with MS themselves?) or are they analogues that exist only within your service (in which case: isn't that a bit disingenuous?)?


Charuru wrote:
How do the microtransactions work?
We'll have points that people can buy in chunks in order to purchase micro stuff.
This sounds a lot like the plan the DateSim.org guys had a while back for their Novus Magus Academy game... personally, I suspect that the point where a user first hits a paywall, where the game unexpectedly says "if you want to go further, then cough up some cash" - will be the point where you lose the most users.

Charuru wrote: A refund. If it turns out that that's a bigger problem than originally thought we'll rethink this.
I think that you can pretty much guarantee that if anyone uses your service at all, it'll be a bigger problem than you originally thought. ;-)




Anyway, sorry if that's too much rambling, it's half two in the morning here. :P
Server error: user 'Jake' not found

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#33 Post by Wintermoon » Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:30 pm

Lessis wrote:1) Our core concept is streaming. However I think streaming as a concept is proven though, I rarely hear people demanding to watch Youtube or Hulu offline for example.
I use the DownloadHelper Firefox extension to download YouTube videos. It's a fairly popular extension, which indicates that quite a few people like the option of being able to download.
Lessis wrote:2) We are very good about privacy. You can share as much or as little as you want. If you do not want the social features, you do not have to enable them.
This assumes that I trust you. Most social networking sites have a very bad privacy record, so my initial instinct is to be very cautious.

Even if none of my data is revealed to other users, it's still in the cloud and you can still access it.
Lessis wrote:3) Plain text editor is available by clicking the "Script Interface" in the upper right hand corner of the editor. You will be able to store all your files in locally and import easily. In fact that's what I did. I certainly did not copy and paste 500 Crescendo segments.
IIRC that's where I clicked when the interface stopped responding.
Lessis wrote:4) Your criticism is noted and I am personally dedicated to making the editor more and more user-friendly, though dstarsboy said earlier that it was very easy to use. We're constantly improving it. What browser are you using?
Firefox 3.6.8. Add-ons include AdBlock Plus, BetterPrivacy, BugMeNot, DownloadHelper, NoScript, OptimizeGoogle, and RequestPolicy. I temporarily disabled NoScript on your site. Javascript is enabled, but all of the specific permissions (e.g. open new windows) are disabled. Pop-up windows are blocked.
Lessis wrote:2. The menu appears on the cover page, but disappears when going to the first page. Right clicking will bring up the menu again. It should not bring up the browser menu. You can also bring up the menu by hovering near the bottom edge. This mimics the behavior of many Japanese engines.
Actually, right-clicking should bring up the browser menu. I would consider it a major flaw in the browser if it allowed this behavior to be hijacked by scripts.

Hovering the mouse near the bottom edge does not work reliably. Either the bottom edge is not detected accurately, or there is an unacceptable amount of lag.
Lessis wrote:4. You can get fullscreen mode by pressing F11. Then press the fullscreen button. Browsers do not allow websites to change the fullscreen status of users unfortunately. You would have to manually press F11. Also Charuru forgot to mention that we'll be releasing a reader for all the major platforms as well, and that will get around all browser problems and the like.
I do not expect or want your web-page to take over my screen. However, calling the fullscreen option "fullscreen" is misleading when all it does is to fill the entire browser window. Actually, shouldn't filling the entire browser window be the default anyway?
Lessis wrote:There's also as much vendor lock-in as Ren'py has vendor lock-in.
Ren'Py has no vendor lock-in at all. Zero. Zilch. I can take legally take the current Ren'Py code base, make arbitrary modifications to it, and then sell the modified Ren'Py from my own website under my own name. There are certain legal restrictions, but they are in no way comparable to not having access to the engine source code at all.

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#34 Post by DaFool » Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:57 pm

Speaking as a non-programmer but a scripting expert (in Ren'Py)...

Your site is impressive, way more impressive than datesim.org

The fact you even got Peter Payne's attention is also something.

Hmmm...

http://visualnoveldai.com/db/daemonophilia

Hey, I worked on that game! Did you get all these stuff from vndb? Do you plan on porting all the free games or only the best, and if so it's assumed you would contact the original creators? It's one thing to have a game reuploaded to rapidshare, but another thing entirely to be broken apart and recoded to another platform.

The WYSIWYG editor seems impressive like the Novelty engine, (but take that as a grain of salt since I prefer to script so never really use them). One advantage the datesim guys have is that they will custom-code the port of the game for you. Which means, if I want SRPG battles in my hybrid visual novel, I'll leave that in their competent hands.

These are really interesting times. Along with minori vs NNL and and major attacks on fan-translations, we have an ever expanding catalogue from mangagamer and JAST and now at least 3 very viable engines for simple VN creation (Ren'Py, Novelty, and now Novelstream - the others are not in a state to easily get started in creation).

If any person or team reading this has a Steam-like implementation for visual novels, or a dedicated framework for porting VNs to the App store (that will not get rejected due to some TOS), I'll be the first one to come knocking.

But otherwise, good job so far.

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#35 Post by Charuru » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:13 pm

@Counter Arts
Counter Arts wrote:First impressions: It feels like comparing Windows Movie Maker to Adobe Premier. It's good for beginners and standard Visual Novels.
I would definitely disagree with that. :D This is like Windows Movie Maker vs DOS.
Counter Arts wrote:In general I think VNs have a longer shelf-life when compared to a lot of video games in general. Now having that platform as something you can release a demo on is something that would be very interesting.
Fanfastic idea. This way you can get at least some of the benefits of NovelStream but avoid paying the fees.

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#36 Post by Samu-kun » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:32 pm

Is that the full version of Crescendo, sans voices on the website? Will Peach Princess be distributing it free to play online from now then?

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#37 Post by sayuri » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:06 am

As someone that has near no technological skills at all, your engine looks very attractive. It's streamlined and user friendly, but you already know that. I have a few concerns that I'd like to address, mainly as a consumer.

1) I am uncomfortable with a browser based engine. I feel that all the social integration could work just as well in a downloadable interface. I won't be able to play any games offline, period. What if I'm programing and the internet goes down, will my changes not be saved? I'm sure there are measures against losing the data but still. To use papillon's example of youtube and hulu, when youtube starts lagging I'll watch a video from iTunes or on DVD instead. Equate Ren'py to the stored video. Hell, if someone screwed with my router and I were developing a game on your engine, I'd be out of work. That's just my impression but I see it as a potential problem.

2) As a player, the easy in game purchase angle is a red flag. I might be alone here but there have been a few times I accidentally ordered something from a site where my credit card info was stored. Why not take a page out of pretty much every casual game site and use 'free play then pay to unlock'. Or are you using a currency system? I'm not about to test it out but clearly stating how easy you make buying something makes me, the consumer, uneasy.

Again, I have no experience coding, which probably means I am your target audience :wink: . I'd be ecstatic but not being able to work (or play) offline is a huge turnoff.

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#38 Post by Enigma » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:13 am

I might actually use this someday, but if I really wanted too, couldn't I put a download link on a Facebook page (correct me if I'm wrong, I don't/never have used Facebool or Myspace, heck this is the first forum I've been on.)

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#39 Post by Topagae » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:55 am

"A dedicated framework for porting VNs to the App store (that will not get rejected due to some TOS), I'll be the first one to come knocking."

*Raises hand* We got that. The only thing that will get it rejected is probably Hentai, no over 18 stuff on the app store, so sayeth the Jobs.

http://www.apple.com/webapps/
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#40 Post by Counter Arts » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:59 am

Charuru wrote:@Counter Arts
Counter Arts wrote:First impressions: It feels like comparing Windows Movie Maker to Adobe Premier. It's good for beginners and standard Visual Novels.
I would definitely disagree with that. :D This is like Windows Movie Maker vs DOS.
Now now... let's remember I'm the guy who tries to get the most of his engines and pushes them hard. After Ren'py works out most of the bugs of the GL mode I'll bug PyTom for colour add mode of particles and images. Then I'll show some real fireworks with the graphics.

So now that you claim it's like Windows Movie Maker vs DOS. Now I will state my needs as a developer and see if you can fulfil them.

I suppose you can just have javascript blocks or something to allow. I had to develop several UIs for the several systems I make in quick succession. Why? Because you'll need something to stand out by whether it's by interesting premise or interesting system.

Here is a sample of what kind of game mechanics I might need.

Battle system
Item creation system
Simple Economy Simulation
Skill Tree system
Relationship system
Advanced Event Management system. (A lot of my events don't have set dates and the order of events can change so much.)

So like that's my laundry list of my VN/dating-sim design needs.

I just think allowing for something like this in your engine just wouldn't be in your best interest actually. Your system really should be for the people just starting out. It is really simple to get started and has a really low barrier of entry. Your system could run like 80% of professional visual novels in Japan that don't have specialized systems.

The community thing I think you guys can pull off if you attract talent. Talented writing, composers, artists, etc... are the kind of people you need.
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#41 Post by jack_norton » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:03 am

Just a few notes:
- "In general I think VNs have a longer shelf-life when compared to a lot of video games in general." from personal experience, largely depends on your marketing skills and kind of game. I have strategy/RPG games that have MUCH LONGER shelf-life than any VN I made.
- installing Chrome plug-in. Well not really the ideal solution, but I'm aware that IE sucks very bad for JS. Seeing that on IE9 they'll finally support HTML5 and such, probably better that way
- social stuff. I hate FB, but having badges/achievements could be a nice idea (I wanted to do that even for my offline games).
- streaming. On my low-end broadband connection (640kps) there were lots of hiccups so as player I would never play a game. But of course I hope most players have faster connections!

Now a question:
- promotion. How you'll decide which games are on frontpage? based on sales, or CR (visitors to buy ratio)? If your platform takes off might soon become like Appstore, where only the top10 apps make decent money and the others fade into obscurity (assuming there will be 1000s VNs).
- effectiveness. I still have doubt about VN online = huge success. I am thinking it might become like kongregate, where people go there only to play free stuff. Since is hard to get hooked enough with a VN (no matter how the story is good) people could just jump from VN to VN, playing for free. But that's part of the virality project since even on FB most players don't pay anything and a "small" chunk buys stuff.
- online vs download. I believe might become like now is for casual games vs social stuff. I've been hearing that downloadbles are dead since 3 years, yet many people still prefer to buy them. But that's really a different topic, so nothing to do with your engine :)

Overall, not bad, I'll follow your progress. Nice to make quick ports of some games, but as for jumping to using your engine exclusively I don't see this happening since the most important thing as business is to have control (I'd probably make my own JS system if I had to move to full online games). Still a very good tools for people that just want to follow the "iphone model" (hoping it doesn't end like that! heheh).
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#42 Post by LordShiranai » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:24 am

Looking over the feature set boasted by NovelStream, I would say that it's only big advantages are that it has a "pretty" editor, and that being on a browser allows it to potentially run on any platform that has a compliant browser. That and you have a platform to assist people selling their games, albeit in an app store fashion.

Yet this is all a double edged sword, and I would have to agree with the idea that I do not trust most of my data to cloud computing. It has a place, but when it comes to things I write or things I buy, you can be assured that I want to have my own copy that I know will work for years and years to come. I don't want my data to suddenly disappear because the server operators decide it isn't profitable, go broke, or lose interest. Not to mention that server outages, being on a bad connection, etc. may make the game temporarily unplayable. As with any buzzword technology, the hype parade often fails to even bring up the downsides. This is not really a jab at NovelStream, but the whole hype around cloud computing in general.

Either way, I kind of feel the comparison list is a bit misleading. Features such as "collaboration" and "share doujins" (for an example) require context to understand what you mean. Another thing glossed over in your comparison is the fact that someone with programming experience can basically do a whole lot with Ren'Py. For example, I can update Twitter from within a Ren'Py game (I've done it). If I wanted to, I could access a database server (though I'm not sure how that would benefit 99% of VNs). Most importantly, I can create complex game mechanics beyond a standard VN utilizing Python. I'm more interested in how NovelStream can compare to that then the fact it has a graphical editor I will personally never use, not to mention if you would ever consider making the system more open to people who want to be able to sell a copy of the game on their own.
I would definitely disagree with that. :D This is like Windows Movie Maker vs DOS.
I'm not sure I would agree that this is a valid comparison in either case. Comparing an application to an OS is a bit weird in the first place.

I prefer to see it this way: NovelStream does a lot of things for you that you can accomplish in Ren'Py with extra work, but the tradeoff is that it is not as open of a platform/engine. It may also be the case (I cannot say for absolute certain because I haven't directly touched NovelStream) that if you have a programming background, you would potentially be able to do a lot more with Ren'Py at the end of the day.
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#43 Post by Charuru » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:22 pm

@Jake, thank you for the excellent critique. I'm glad you liked a lot.
Jake wrote:On the other hand, I don't really like the idea of web delivery of VNs too much, as I said in your previous thread. I share Wintermoon's misgivings about being able to play when my 'net connection is slow or down, and I don't like the interface restrictions necessary when using a browser as an application container (lack of right-click, pre-determined functions for a lot of keys, potential problems with back button, etc.). I can see that some people would benefit from being able to play anywhere, but the only really big advantage seems to me to be mobile devices.
I understand your concerns about web delivery. But it's because of this web delivery that all these new things I'm bringing to the table will be possible. Internet connectivity is only going to improve, this is very much the way of the future.

About browser issues, keyboard shortcuts can be over written, so it's not a problem. Also there shouldn't be a lack of right click. I don't consider it my fault or a limitation of the engine if you expressively prohibit websites from overwriting your right click. If you have a list of requests, these features should be trivial to implement.

Also we're coming out with a specialized native reader which will eliminate all browser issues for many platforms. It'll be great.
Jake wrote:When you're talking about the PC desktop you're competing directly with Ren'Py (and from your comparison article it seems you're well aware of this), which does approximately everything, and just in terms of simple usability features you're a long way behind at the moment - personally, I wouldn't be interested in writing for a platform without at least readback, and I'd strongly prefer Ren'Py-esque full rollback; transitions seem to be limited to just scenes, not introducing character sprites; fullscreen doesn't actually superimpose over the browser controls and OS bar, etc.
Readback is coming, really. It'll be available before anyone has anything written.

I'm interested to know how you use rollback. I don't have a good sense of how it can be used. Unless the game is Prince of Persia.

On transitions being limited to just scenes/lack of character sprites. This is NOT TRUE. We have many effects for sprites. You just need to declare them first before you can act on them. I think this is same for Ren'py as well.

This is much easier to do in the editor. Tutorial 3 will cover this. But basically, first add a non-scene level image. Then in the properties click 'named'. Then give it a name in the id field. The sprite will automatically move itself to the 'asset library' and you will be able to manipulate it with fade, animate, etc effects.

Read this for animated sprites (beautiful children):
http://visualnoveldai.com/visualnovels/ ... wild-night

For the fullscreen, you have to press f11 to enable full, fullscreen. Your browser permissions prevent websites from activating fullscreen. If you click f11 and then the fullscreen button you should get real fullscreen. Also, there will be a desktop reader that won't have this problem.
Jake wrote:I did have a play around with your editor, and... I'd give the same advice to you as I gave to Sin when he started his Novelty editor a couple of years ago: when you're writing a story you want to be spending most of your time typing, not fiddling with the mouse... right now, it seems practically impossible to do most things in your editor without using the mouse and/or tabbing an awful lot. There'll always be a hardcore who want to write in script directly, but... unfortunately, your script language is frankly horrible. :/

To compare some code between your engine and Ren'Py:

Code: Select all

;h;c set dialog name Kozue
"-I'm here now right."
;h;c set dialog name Masaru
"Anyway Kozue. I tried to call your cellphone, but nobody picked up."

Code: Select all

ko "-I'm here now right."
ma "Anyway Kozue. I tried to call your cellphone, but nobody picked up."

Code: Select all

;s /effect:fade /uid:scene1 /name:Prologue
;is http://visualnoveldai.com/files/vn/images/1/crescendo/bg100ba2.jpg  

Code: Select all

label scene1:
  show bg classroom with dissolve
Ren'Py easily wins out on readable, maintainable, typeable code. Forgetting missing niceties, this is probably the biggest thing that would prevent me from wanting to write for this engine. In some places you have random symbols, in other places you're being unnecessarily verbose... it doesn't look like a nice or an intuitive language to write in. Ren'Py has its problems in this regard as well, especially with indentation...
Code samples. First of all, let me mention that the code samples you're posting is the machine verbose output, you're not expected to actually write all that, and that the renpy examples you showed is not the equivalent of the NovelStream script.

Historically, NovelStream was designed from the script first. If you look back to some of my blog posts over 2008 I also made a couple of comparisons to Ren'py touting how much easier it is to use the NovelStream script.

Secondly, I'm not totally sure what to say about Novelty, I'm not an expert in using it, but from what I've seen it is quite different. Also, I think there's a Novelty way of doing things that you may have tried to bring to Ignition , I think if you try to use Ignition the same way as you use Novelty, you might feel that Novelty's weaknesses are Ignition, but that's not true.

There's a NovelStream 'way' of writing VNs and it goes like this.
Actually let me just first say that my primary audience is 'writers', and that's the people I optimize for (as opposed to developers).

So as a writer, first you have your text. I consider the text the most important, basic, part of the story. I write my text in OneNote or Word, and then I paste this into the Ignition script view.

I then add the basic tree, the ;s ;p and ;b, that create the scenes, pages, and breaks respectively.

Next I switch to editor, and pound out effects, images, audio, etc. This goes much much quicker in editor than in script, especially when you have things like live previewing of audio, drag and drop images, to position them and animate them. You do all this without having to figure out things like coordinates etc.

And then when you're done, you can use the live preview. Anyway, IMO this is the 'correct' way to write a VN, and takes great advantage of everything you can do in Ignition. I think this is much harder in Novelty because it's XML based?

Your criticism is noted that writing directly into the editor takes too much mouse movement (I think you should write the text of the story separately, having the effects, images, etc, and thinking about those things will reduce your effectiveness as a writer. Also on pretty much any large team you'll have separate writer / scripter roles and the NovelStream way is the default/expected way anyway).

Back on mouse movement, this is one of our major on-going design challenges. Having all the interface /commands accessible by mouse is key to making the learning curve low for new users, but the hardcore will not be impressed by that. I suspect that the lowest hanging fruit is simply adding a great set of keyboard shortcuts to lessen the amount of mouse use necessary. If anyone could help with designing this it would be fantastic. I still think that the 'correct' way of doing it is just better though. And right now, writing on Ignition is a perfect experience for me.

Finally we get to the script.

Code: Select all

ko "-I'm here now right."
ma "Anyway Kozue. I tried to call your cellphone, but nobody picked up."
This in Ignition would be:

Code: Select all

;nko "-I'm here now right."
;b;nko "Anyway Kozue. I tried to call your cellphone, but nobody picked up."
You're leaving out where you declare the char name variables, which is an unfair comparison.

Secondly, Ren'py also doesn't seem to support multiline text? I'd admit it's not a common usecase in adventure games but I typically toss out long walls of text in my visual novels, cause you know, it's a novel.

Also, when clearing the page Ren'py uses the nvl clear command.
In Ignition you just change the page with ;p, or use ;h for an auto hiding break.

There's also a more verbose ;c clear page as well as a ;c clear page images, but hey.

Thirdly, when writing NVLs Ren'py requires quotes around everything. Which to my writer sensibilities is just horrible, I would not want to go around putting quotes around all my lines. Actually this is the #1 reason why NovelStream got started, putting quotes around all my lines just killed me.

Second example:

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label scene1:
  show bg classroom with dissolve
In Ignition this is:

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;s scene1 fade
 ;is classroom show
You lack an image name from the script you saw to your conversion to Ren'py. A name can take arbitrary characters so it was important to put enough random characters to not confuse the editor. However without one you can use the shorthand.

Also once again you left out the var declaration in the Ren'py form, and so it's only fair to leave it out in the Ignition form as well. And can Ren'py play an anonymous audio or show an anonymous image? It's the little things like this that makes deving on Ignition faster, because you don't need to declare stuff you won't need later on.
I'm also concerned about being able to version-control and maintain the scripts locally... it's all very well saying that it's possible to import scripts from your HDD, but this increases the turnaround time on testing changes; in Ren'Py, for example, I can be testing a game and notice a bug, flip to the text editor, make a small change, go back to Ren'Py and hit Shift-R, the game reloads with my change and I can re-test. What's the workflow for making minor changes with NovelStream?
I personally make my edits live on the site. You can copy the script to your local after you're done with a segment for example, without too much trouble and commit to your repo afterwards. I know there's an extra step there but if you really insist in using your local vcs that's sort of unavoidable. We can talk about more sophisticated syncing mechanisms if you open an issue with the kind of features you would like to see:
http://visualnoveldai.com/node/add/feed ... ject=12495

Personally I use the source control built into NovelStream because it suits my needs. I presume this is better for the 95% of writers out there rather than learning Git with all its complexities and unneeded features.
I strongly suspect that as it stands, working on everything on your site will make development - team or otherwise - much slower than the equivalent Ren'Py development, due to a combination of clunky editor and lack of features. (Now, it's undoubtedly the case that someone who has never done any development before will be able to pick up Ignition and get something doing something quicker than they could in Ren'Py... but I think that once they get used to the tool, there's only so much that they can speed up just due to the mode of operation, while once someone gets familiar with Ren'Py they can more or less churn script and direction out as fast as they can type, so a team with a little experience is going to get faster with something like Ren'Py faster.)
In light of everything I just said, I hope it's evident now that this statement is just wrong. I consider speed of development a more important feature than easy learning curve, but at this point I think we have both.
If you want to call your offer 'a step beyond', you should really include all that functionality - like version control - which is available outside of your system. It's all very well saying that you can use a VCS outside of NovelStream, but that misses the point of your system. Personally, speaking as a developer, I don't see any real reason to prefer to work in an all-online shared environment which does less stuff than the tools I have on my desktop do.
Wait you're missing something. We do have a (basic) VCS. It's only available if you're logged in, so I can see how you might miss it. That's why I said we offer something more. If you're an experienced developer you can use your own high power VCS, but for everyone else they'll be automatically introduced to a revision system that's great for most teams.
Since all the media assets are downloadable from your website via URLs in the source of the page for each VN, do you have any plans for making it difficult for people to rip other people's graphics off? If I had to guess, I'd say amateur game developers are probably more worried about this than straight-up piracy, and it's an area that Ren'Py does have a slight advantage in.
We're very big on people making their assets available for fanfiction. This can only help promote your work. If someone is using your assets for their own unrelated work, you can sue them. I don't think a technological response is the correct solution here.
And since we're talking about a web-delivered platform, I have the same question that I had for the last web-delivered VN platform I saw: how are you dealing with the delivery of assets to the user? Do you do any kind of selective/staggered pre-loading, do you expect the user's browser to download individual files as and when they're needed, do you load everything up front...? If you're pre-loading everything, are you grabbing the whole novel's worth of data or just the first scene, should users expect delays between scenes, etc. ... ?
As the name suggests, it's streamed. We're preloading as much as you need and no more. More specifically, we have segments of the VN. Each ajax load preloads all the content on the NEXT couple of segments so that you're never stuck on a loading screen.
This is one thing that I'm still not clear on, despite having read a few pages on your site; what exactly do you do that's 'Social'? Are we talking all that obnoxious "posting status updates to people's Facebook pages and giving them bonuses if they can get other people to play" stuff that Facebook games seem to all indulge in? You mention 'Achievements' and 'GamerScore' on your features list; are you referring to the XBox Live things with those names (in which case: have you dealt with everything already or would people have to negotiate with MS themselves?) or are they analogues that exist only within your service (in which case: isn't that a bit disingenuous?)?
On Social I can write many articles about it, and tonight is really too late. But for example, if your friend gives you a few tomatoes, you feel compelled to give some back to her, regardless of whether or not you enjoy the process of growing tomatoes. With social, the interactions within a game becomes not just about the game itself, but there's extra addictiveness added, an added viral aspect, because you find the game more rewarding when it rewards your social life, not just your fake game life.

I think this is one thing that males find really hard to get, but is a huge deal with the other 50%.

There are some elements that can be obnoxious, but if you find it so you don't have to participate. However Facebook and Facebook app developers are finding the idea very profitable.

Anyway I think Achievements is a good start for making VNs social. We'll design more custom interactions after we finish our initial release. And they're not xbox live achievements, they're NovelStream achievements. And it's not disingenuous, have you never heard of Starcraft achievements or Steam achievements? Many services offer achievements (xbox is the forefounder), it's just that we do too. Also you will be able to have your VNs be Facebook Apps and employ the many Facebook App promotion strategies.

Jake wrote:paywall.
You're always going to lose a proportion when you transition from free to pay. But I think it's obvious that conversion rates are going to be much higher when the reader is already quarter way through and thoroughly addicted.

Jake wrote:I think that you can pretty much guarantee that if anyone uses your service at all, it'll be a bigger problem than you originally thought. ;-)
Excuse me, but we already have publishers on board, and at least 3 30+ hour visual novels that will be launched at release. We are also working on many more.

I also understand from my experience on the internet that hard core programmers tend to be conservative when it comes to issues like these, and that marketers and businesswomen that I'm aiming at would be more aggressive in taking these opportunities to make more money.

If somebody shows me their source, I will develop Ren'py conversion tools. I don’t have anything to work off of ATM.

Thanks for responding, I'll be making more posts soon.
Last edited by Charuru on Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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DaFool
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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#44 Post by DaFool » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:04 pm

Technical-wise, I'd trust them with a project (If I had one, i.e a simple VN). They know what they're doing. And with JAST's full support behind it -- choosing it as their streaming distribution method -- it can only mean being the future market leader (in the admittedly extremely small market, as it exists right now, but which they hope to expand).

Content-wise- you're going to be submitting your original project to a place with fan translations and fanfics and competing for attention with established stories. I know here on LSF while fan works are not prohibited -- they're often ignored since the overwhelming feeling is that original works with original character drawings are encouraged (since it's just one step away from ripping a picture of Saber and talking about the character Saber... as taking a picture of Saber and talking about a character called Nagisa).
We're very big on people making their assets available for fanfiction. This can only help promote your work. If someone is using your assets for their own unrelated work, you can sue them. I don't think a technological response is the correct solution here.
I'm not sure majority of writers/artists would agree with that. It's one thing to have an originally-drawn fanart, but someone else just taking your story and characters and making a sequel/side-story? At least the courtesy of an email asking for permission would be appreciated. I understand this is a non-issue for most people coming from the fan-translation side. But step in the shoes of an IP owner and it's different.)

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Re: NovelStream: Revolutionary visual novel platform

#45 Post by fortaat » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:01 pm

Kids love bulletin time:

* Live preview mode didn't work, all I got was a black screen. when I clicked back on the browser it sent me back to the introduction page, not the editor.
* The Asset library should have an "add" button. The "add" button shouldn't lead to a complex tagging system of forum\gallery.
The simple way is:
Click "add" => browse => choose file
To keep it organized you should add a "create folder" button. The current Media Browser system is a real drawback.
The ideal way is adding drag and drop.
* Every button opens a balloon, which suggests I'll see the button's instructional video. Maybe you should put a link inside the balloon.
* when I open any links from within the editor (documentation), it should open it in a new tab, and not leave the editor.
* It's probably underway, but you have to improve the help section. It should be in text, so I could Google a specific tool in case I forget how to use it.
* The help movie is very nice. Change the narrator to a less formal female tone.
* I couldn't find how to create a menu. I guess it's in the general command section, but I couldn't find it.
* I clicked Save, which seemed to kill the editor. It didn't respond, so I re-opened it.
* Add a save/load system. Right now I can only have one copy of a VN.

Not so important features:
* I couldn't change the font size for only a part of the text. Right now you can only change the default size. If it's possible, add a button on the appropriate bar.
* same thing for font color.
* Add hyperlinks.
* Add a "text box" tool. One can do a half assed job with an image, but that wouldn't work for a VN which relies on that feature heavily.
* I got annoyed trying to add pictures, so in case it's not there, add access to the Alpha layer of PNG.

The greatest problem I see is the fact you almost have to use an external text editor, but the engine itself doesn't tell you that. It's worth pointing out somewhere that you intend people to use it that way, and link to a guide on the proper syntax.
Another problem, though you're probably aware to it, is the lack of help sections, or links to them. This includes videos, and documentation on the recommended image size+DPI, sound file size, etc'. Despite still being in Beta stages, that's the most crippling problem right now.
Another feature which could really help your PR, though it probably can't be implemented without revealing the source code, is allowing people to download a VN after two years it's on the site. This way they won't fear all their hard work will be lost.

Good work so far, I'm impressed. I'm still not inclined to switch engines, but I'm not the kind who needs a visual editor. I'll look forward to the next version, or at least proper documentation for the current.

Firefox 3.6.8
Too lazy to type:

Image
Image
Charuru wrote:If somebody shows me their source, I will develop Ren'py conversion tools.
You could really increase the pool of developers just by making a simple tool that converts Renpy dialogues to Ignite dialogues. That's an important step at making Ignite popular.

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