visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story?

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chocoberrie
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visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story?

#1 Post by chocoberrie » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:33 pm

I have started developing a story that I would like to adapt into a visual novel format, but I don't see it turning into a multi-path story. Does this mean that having in-game choices is irrelevant, which in turn would mean that my story would be best presented as a kinetic novel that is linear instead of a visual novel with branched plots?

It seems to me that linear visual novels with choices is essentially a more interactive version of a kinetic novel... Does this make sense? (Maybe I'm not too clear on the difference between a visual novel and a kinetic novel... Could someone elaborate?)

Here's a super short summary of my story thus far: Fresh out of high school, a young girl dreams of being a world-class pâtissier, following in the footsteps of her mother. But when her mother passes away shortly after her graduation, will she find the courage to follow her dreams, or will she refuse to ever set foot in the kitchen again?

I should note that the protagonist's father (and perhaps some friends? I'm not sure yet) plays an important role in helping her cope with the loss of her mother and find a reason to keep going, i.e. pursue her dreams.

So with this being my story, would a kinetic novel be better to pursue as a format than a visual novel? If it could be presented as a visual novel with in-game choices, how would I go about developing these choices and integrating them into the story?

Thanks for any advice/help! I really appreciate it!

(Sorry if this post ends up in the wrong thread!)

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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#2 Post by redcat » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:18 pm

But when her mother passes away shortly after her graduation, will she find the courage to follow her dreams, or will she refuse to ever set foot in the kitchen again?
I see this story fits into visual novel because it already has (at least) two endings :
1. She followed her calling and reached her dream
2. She hesitated and failed.
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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#3 Post by gekiganwing » Sat Jun 22, 2013 11:38 pm

chocoberrie wrote:It seems to me that linear visual novels with choices is essentially a more interactive version of a kinetic novel... Does this make sense? (Maybe I'm not too clear on the difference between a visual novel and a kinetic novel... Could someone elaborate?)
According to the VNDB, "A kinetic novel is a VN that does not present the 'player' with any choices at all; they simply read through a single unbranching story." In other words, it's one of many ways to a story that has a beginning and an ending.
chocoberrie wrote:So with this being my story, would a kinetic novel be better to pursue as a format than a visual novel? If it could be presented as a visual novel with in-game choices, how would I go about developing these choices and integrating them into the story?
If you don't think your story will benefit from decisions or multiple endings, then write it as a kinetic novel. But if you think that your main character should be making decisions that will lead to more than one outcome, then consider the following:

* Let's assume that your main character wants to become a patissier badly, but she is having trouble achieving that goal. Obstacles might include grief, dealing with surviving family, relationships with friends, how to continue her training to become a chef, expectations of other people... Can you have her deal with these obstacles by making decisions related to them?

* What endings are possible? Will her choices lead to a scene in which the main character has managed to overcome all the obstacles? Will negative or hesitant choices lead to a scene in which she's still struggling? Think about how her decisions could result in an ending that isn't totally good or bad: she helps someone else realize their dream; she chooses family and friends for the moment.

I try not to directly reference TVTropes since it's addictive. But the site has a pretty good article on how to limit the main character's choices (called How to Stop the Deus Ex Machina), and one about How to Write a Visual Novel. Read 'em if you have time.

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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#4 Post by Sapphi » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:08 am

We had an interesting discussion pertaining to this a few months ago. Some good advice and suggestions there; maybe you'll find something relevant to your situation.

One thing I'd like to mention that I didn't in that topic was a sentiment that Samu-kun shared here once...
Samu-kun wrote: 3. Loss of momentum. The player's emotional build up is going to rise throughout the game, and then deflate once he gets a bad end. And then the player will finally play the good end with no emotional build up, making the emotional output of the real ending pointless
He was referring to game designs with explicit "BAD END GAME OVER" endings, which is not what you seem to be aiming for, but I think it's still something to consider. If your wish is to keep your story's mood consistent for the entire duration, and build up emotion in the player, branching paths could pose a risk, depending on how you used them.

In the deliberately bad game I made recently for a forum challenge, Boku no Taisetsu na Yumeko, I had a single menu in which every choice very shortly led to the same result. This is usually considered bad game design, as when people hear "Your choices will affect the story" they are usually hoping for a little bit more than a slight variation. However, I've also heard at least one person on this forum say that they would rather play a game with choices this than a pure kinetic novel, because at least they are somewhat involved with the story, rather than an entirely passive observer.

So... in the end, it may be a question of your own personal preference for the way you want to tell your story... just know that you can't please everybody :P
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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#5 Post by chocoberrie » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:12 pm

redcat wrote:
I see this story fits into visual novel because it already has (at least) two endings :
1. She followed her calling and reached her dream
2. She hesitated and failed.
Oh okay, thank you! I'll take a look at my story outline and see where I can add in a branch.

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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#6 Post by chocoberrie » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:15 pm

gekiganwing wrote:According to the VNDB, "A kinetic novel is a VN that does not present the 'player' with any choices at all; they simply read through a single unbranching story." In other words, it's one of many ways to a story that has a beginning and an ending.
Great, that clears it up! Thank you!
gekiganwing wrote:If you don't think your story will benefit from decisions or multiple endings, then write it as a kinetic novel. But if you think that your main character should be making decisions that will lead to more than one outcome, then consider the following:

* Let's assume that your main character wants to become a patissier badly, but she is having trouble achieving that goal. Obstacles might include grief, dealing with surviving family, relationships with friends, how to continue her training to become a chef, expectations of other people... Can you have her deal with these obstacles by making decisions related to them?

* What endings are possible? Will her choices lead to a scene in which the main character has managed to overcome all the obstacles? Will negative or hesitant choices lead to a scene in which she's still struggling? Think about how her decisions could result in an ending that isn't totally good or bad: she helps someone else realize their dream; she chooses family and friends for the moment.

I try not to directly reference TVTropes since it's addictive. But the site has a pretty good article on how to limit the main character's choices (called How to Stop the Deus Ex Machina), and one about How to Write a Visual Novel. Read 'em if you have time.
These ideas are great, thank you so much! I think I have a better idea of what I want to write now. I'll be sure to check out those articles! (How exactly is TVTropes addictive? I've never seen that website before...)

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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#7 Post by chocoberrie » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:21 pm

Sapphi wrote: One thing I'd like to mention that I didn't in that topic was a sentiment that Samu-kun shared here once...

3. Loss of momentum. The player's emotional build up is going to rise throughout the game, and then deflate once he gets a bad end. And then the player will finally play the good end with no emotional build up, making the emotional output of the real ending pointless.

He was referring to game designs with explicit "BAD END GAME OVER" endings, which is not what you seem to be aiming for, but I think it's still something to consider. If your wish is to keep your story's mood consistent for the entire duration, and build up emotion in the player, branching paths could pose a risk, depending on how you used them.
This is a great point to consider, thank you! I didn't think of this before. I don't want my story to have a bad ending -- I like stories with happy endings much more. That's why I was interested in making this story into a kinetic novel first, and see if it is possible to incorporate choices as I write (so that maybe it can be adapted into a visual novel, but I'm not too sure yet.)
Sapphi wrote:So... in the end, it may be a question of your own personal preference for the way you want to tell your story... just know that you can't please everybody :P
Yes, this seems to be the bottom-line about visual vs. kinetic novels, doesn't it? Thanks again for all of your help! ^_^

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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#8 Post by Applegate » Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:13 pm

It seems to me that linear visual novels with choices is essentially a more interactive version of a kinetic novel... Does this make sense? (Maybe I'm not too clear on the difference between a visual novel and a kinetic novel... Could someone elaborate?)
A "kinetic" novel is just as visual as a "visual" novel; Honestly, better names need to be thought up rather than pretend VNs with only one ending don't count as VNs.


Key difference between choices and no choices is that with choices, you can explore what would happen if a different decision was made at key points in the story. What if she did NOT open the Forbidden Lore the elders had told her about? What if he did NOT take the key with him?

For your story, it depends on whether you think there is a meaningful story to be explored behind NOT following her dreams.


EDIT: I don't think there's purpose to "losing a story"; Whenever I want to entertain myself, I dislike it when my source of entertainment denies me because I made a wrong choice somehow.

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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#9 Post by chocoberrie » Sun Jun 23, 2013 3:04 pm

Applegate wrote:A "kinetic" novel is just as visual as a "visual" novel; Honestly, better names need to be thought up rather than pretend VNs with only one ending don't count as VNs.
This is what I was thinking in my confusion as well. I wasn't sure why visual novels couldn't have only one ending. Thanks for clearing that up!
Applegate wrote:Key difference between choices and no choices is that with choices, you can explore what would happen if a different decision was made at key points in the story. What if she did NOT open the Forbidden Lore the elders had told her about? What if he did NOT take the key with him?

For your story, it depends on whether you think there is a meaningful story to be explored behind NOT following her dreams.
That makes sense, thanks! Choices open up a lot of possibilities for different directions. Whether or not they're applicable depends on the story and the author's decision to use them... Looks like I'll have to write some more in order to figure this out for my story.
Applegate wrote:EDIT: I don't think there's purpose to "losing a story"; Whenever I want to entertain myself, I dislike it when my source of entertainment denies me because I made a wrong choice somehow.
How would you go about avoiding this sense of denial from a story? This sounds like the bad ending problem mentioned earlier in this thread. "Negative" choices can lead to fulfilling endings if they're written well with regards to the rest of the story, right?

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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#10 Post by Applegate » Sun Jun 23, 2013 3:21 pm

chocoberrie wrote:
Applegate wrote:EDIT: I don't think there's purpose to "losing a story"; Whenever I want to entertain myself, I dislike it when my source of entertainment denies me because I made a wrong choice somehow.
How would you go about avoiding this sense of denial from a story? This sounds like the bad ending problem mentioned earlier in this thread. "Negative" choices can lead to fulfilling endings if they're written well with regards to the rest of the story, right?
To make it clear, I have to elaborate what a "denial" ending is. I recall reading through a story once that gave an inconsequential choice option, between whether you were clueless or not. With no warning given in advance, and I don't recall what option triggered the death ending, you would die within the minute if you selected the wrong option. Such an inconsequential choice should not have had such a large impact. It was quite disappointing.

Take, for example, your story. The girl (I'm gonna call her Alissa) wants to be a patissier. Her mother's died, and I presume it's an accident in the kitchen or some such; Either way, the death of her mother has put a damper on Alissa's desire to be a patissier.

At some point, suppose Alissa's school is a typical Japanese school, and they have a festival. A maid cafe with the boys crossdressing as maids, because who doesn't like fanservice? In any case, Alissa can choose whether to be on the serving staff or the cooking staff. The choice here is meaningful (does she overcome her fear to cook?), but not selecting the "right" choice may instead make her realise that, perhaps she really likes serving. Maybe she took another job up instead where she comes to some profound breakthrough.

The thing is, your choice isn't treated as "wrong" and punished with a swift return to the main menu screen. If you instead presented classmates who demanded she cook, and she can accept or refuse where refusal leads to a quick "And thus Alissa hid her dreams and became a miserable pile of flesh and secrets -- GAME OVER", then you're denying your readers by offering a non-optional choice. In those cases, just don't provide a choice at all.

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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#11 Post by redcat » Sun Jun 23, 2013 3:28 pm

How would you go about avoiding this sense of denial from a story? This sounds like the bad ending problem mentioned earlier in this thread. "Negative" choices can lead to fulfilling endings if they're written well with regards to the rest of the story, right?
I fully agree with Applegate. Instead of making obvious difference between "good ending" vs "bad endings", I think it's more fulfilling to make all endings are equally "good" but each one have their own consequences. It's like balancing between the good part and the bad part - you wouldn't get an ending that only consist of full happiness or full sadness.
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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#12 Post by chocoberrie » Sun Jun 23, 2013 3:53 pm

redcat wrote:I fully agree with Applegate. Instead of making obvious difference between "good ending" vs "bad endings", I think it's more fulfilling to make all endings are equally "good" but each one have their own consequences. It's like balancing between the good part and the bad part - you wouldn't get an ending that only consist of full happiness or full sadness.
Thanks so much! You're all so helpful; I'll be sure to keep these considerations in mind! :) I think the choices I'm coming up with so far are fitting into the story without ruining it for the reader/player.

What do you guys think of choices that ultimately lead to the same ending but get there in different ways? (i.e. different dialogue between characters, different events take place)? Do all choices have to lead to different things happening?

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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#13 Post by redcat » Sun Jun 23, 2013 4:29 pm

chocoberrie wrote:What do you guys think of choices that ultimately lead to the same ending but get there in different ways? (i.e. different dialogue between characters, different events take place)? Do all choices have to lead to different things happening?
Ideally, different choices should lead to different ending.
But there are also stories where the ending doesn't really matter - it's already decided - like in a detective story where the audience have already "known" who's the culprit and he/she will be jailed. The interesting part would be how to prove that the culprit is guilty; the detective will have several choices (or route) to do it.
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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#14 Post by chocoberrie » Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:33 pm

redcat wrote: Ideally, different choices should lead to different ending.
But there are also stories where the ending doesn't really matter - it's already decided - like in a detective story where the audience have already "known" who's the culprit and he/she will be jailed. The interesting part would be how to prove that the culprit is guilty; the detective will have several choices (or route) to do it.
That's a great example -- thanks again! I'll work on developing unique endings for choices, then. :)

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Re: visual novel or kinetic novel: which is best for a story

#15 Post by Carassaurat » Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:02 pm

Applegate wrote:At some point, suppose Alissa's school is a typical Japanese school, and they have a festival. A maid cafe with the boys crossdressing as maids, because who doesn't like fanservice? In any case, Alissa can choose whether to be on the serving staff or the cooking staff. The choice here is meaningful (does she overcome her fear to cook?), but not selecting the "right" choice may instead make her realise that, perhaps she really likes serving. Maybe she took another job up instead where she comes to some profound breakthrough.
The issue I have with such a structure is that the writer seems to be saying "Hey, I want you to know that you should stick to your dreams no matter what, even when things are looking tough; but if that isn't what you want to hear, I'm also willing to hold the opinion that you should look into other dreams if the situation is difficult." Why should I listen to a writer who doesn't even have a clear opinion he or she wants to convey? If anything, it's that which makes the player passive, to be confronted with an author who is a complete pushover instead of an authoritative voice who demands that we listen instead of talk. I realise I'm not a good writer by anyone's standards, but I do not believe that there is any great writer who doesn't write backwards, from end to beginning, from message to premise.

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