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

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving game writing.
Message
Author
User avatar
Applegate
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 806
Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 12:43 pm
Contact:

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

#16 Post by Applegate » Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:09 pm

Carassaurat wrote: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."
"If you look at things beside the thing you've always dreamt of, you may find things you enjoy just as much or maybe even more as you dream; Even with your grand dream, it's not bad to broaden your view and explore other things. You might surprise yourself".

It's all a matter of point of view. I agree that the writer ought to have a solid idea of the message they want to convey, but by manner of example I like the choices to be meaningful and not lock the reader into one "path": The choices aren't there to guide the reader along one path, it's to allow them multiple paths. Hence, punishing for selecting the "wrong" answer isn't right and why in such a situation Alissa should continue with her story rather than end it.

User avatar
arachni42
Veteran
Posts: 341
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:33 pm
Organization: no, I'm pretty messy
Location: New York
Contact:

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

#17 Post by arachni42 » Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:29 pm

Carassaurat wrote: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."
That would depend on how it's written; I don't see a contradictory message in having a path where she enjoys doing what she set out to do and another path where she actually finds she succeed at and enjoy something else. Both happen all the time in real life. As long as the first path doesn't have some sort of worship of the idea of "you need to follow your dreams to be happy" with the cliched assumption that people always KNOW what would make them happy, then there is no inconsistency.

But that's a little bit beside the point. If your goal is to convey a message, then I do agree it needs to be clear. If your goal is to entertain, however, then other considerations trump that. Just like every other part of the writing, the choices in a VN should have a reason for being there. If the consequence of a choice is just "Oops, you lose," that's boring. That is not storytelling. I do think it's possible to have "good" bad endings -- ones where you learn something new about the character, or you "lose" in an interesting way, or a part of the story is revealed in that ending, or it shows everything from a different angle. (Or maybe the VN is a tragedy and all the ends are bad, hahaha! But entertaining for the same reason the rest of the tragic story was.)

I think there are a lot of cases when a writer has one plot resolution in mind, and so a branch may end up a "bad ending" by default -- in which case, it's easy to fall into the "you lose" trap. Instead, the writer should think of ways that branch could be used to support the story, and it doesn't have to be a "bad ending," just something that happens differently. Maybe a character who is struggling with college decides to drop out. Then what? "The end"? If I'm invested in the story I want to know what happens to them! I mean, a person who dropped out of college doesn't just disappear into the void. They have to do something with their life. Maybe they go get a job, or they go leech off their parents. Maybe they start their own business. Maybe it was the best decision in their lives because they save themselves from crippling debt with high interest student loans, or it gives them a chance to mature a little, find out what they really want, and avoid wasting time/money/effort on something else. Maybe it was the worst decision because they can only get jobs they are miserable at and they go on to commit suicide. Regardless, there is a story to be told.

Even if the writer is desperately trying to convey the message that dropping out of college is bad doesn't mean they can't have the character eventually go on to be a success... they can show how much harder the character has to struggle on that path. This, then, strengthens their message instead of weakening it by just ending things suddenly there. (Writer: "They lived unhappily ever after." The player: "Yeah, right. Why would that happen?" Writer: "Because I said so!")
I, Miku (NaNoRenO 2014)
Vignettes (NaNoRenO 2013)
_________________

User avatar
Funnyguts
Veteran
Posts: 417
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:31 pm
Projects: That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles, Ibuki Magica
Organization: Twin Turtle Games
Contact:

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

#18 Post by Funnyguts » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:18 am

Here are a few of the endings to Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake, taken from Wikipedia.
In the original 1877 ballet, Siegfried struggles with Von Rothbart and tears off one of his wings, thereby destroying his powers. Siegfried has broken the spell of the swan maidens and marries Odette. A version danced by the Mariinsky Ballet in 2006 follows the original ending closely: Siegfried and Odette's true love defeats Von Rothbart and Odette is restored to human form to unite happily with the prince. This version has often been used by Russian and Chinese ballet companies. A similar ending was used in The Swan Princess.
In a version which has an ending very close to the 1895 Mariinsky revival, danced by American Ballet Theatre in 2005, Siegfried's mistaken pledge of fidelity to Odile consigns Odette to remain a swan forever. After realizing that her last moment of humanity is at hand, Odette commits suicide by throwing herself into the lake. The Prince does so as well. This act of sacrifice and love breaks Von Rothbart's power, and he is destroyed. In the final tableau, the lovers are seen rising together to heaven in apotheosis.
In a version danced by New York City Ballet in 2006 (with choreography by Peter Martins after Lev Ivanov, Marius Petipa, and George Balanchine), the Prince's declaration that he wishes to marry Odile constitutes a betrayal that condemns Odette to remain a swan forever. Odette is called away into swan form, and Siegfried is left alone in grief as the curtain falls.
In a version danced by San Francisco Ballet in 2009, Siegfried and Odette throw themselves into the lake, as in the 1895 Mariinsky revival, and von Rothbart is destroyed. Two swans, implied to be the lovers, are then seen flying past the Moon.
In a version danced by National Ballet of Canada in 2010, Odette forgives Siegfried for his betrayal and the promise of reconciliation shines momentarily before Rothbart summons forth a violent storm. Rothbart and Siegfried struggle. When the storm subsides, Odette is left alone to mourn the dead Siegfried.
In the 1986 version Rudolf Nureyev choreographed for the Paris Opera Ballet, Rothbart fights with Siegfried, who is overcome and dies, leaving Rothbart to take Odette triumphantly up to the heavens.
In the 2012 version performed at Blackpool Grand Theatre[11] by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia the Prince drags Rothbart into the lake and both drown. Odette is left as a swan.
Here are some of the messages I get from these endings, feel free to substitute your own if you disagree.
  • Ingenuity will win the day.
    The power of love can defeat evil.
    Don't be unfaithful.
    Sacrifice can be necessary for the greater good.
    Reconciliation is difficult, and sometimes impossible.
    Occasionally the villain wins.
    Occasionally no one wins.
Does having a plethora of endings mean that the story is lacking a coherent message? No, it just means that it can be different things to different stage directors. This kind of thing has been going on well before there were ever digital games, so worrying that multiple endings compromises artistic integrity is pretty silly. One of the advantages of games is that a game version of Swan Lake could include all seven endings and messages based on the player's choices. It would take a lot of strong writing to pull it off, but there's no reason it wouldn't be possible. Creating a single message might not even be the best use of a game. With seven billion people on the planet, why would anyone expect a single message to be applicable to everyone? There's nothing wrong with a message that's 'different things work for different people'.

As far as choices versus no choices go, think about what it is you're inviting your audience to participate in. It's entirely possible that you decide that your game doesn't need direct player involvement to create the impressions that you want. But if that's the case, remember to think very carefully about why you want your creation to be in visual novel format, as opposed to a comic, a book, or a play. What advantages does the format give you that forces you to make a VN instead of anything else?
ImageImage Image
Petit Fours and Sushi: The best name for a Tumblog I could think of.
,%,..@@@,.Þ%,.@G,.@@,.% ...What? It makes sense to me.

User avatar
chocoberrie
Veteran
Posts: 254
Joined: Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:34 pm
Projects: Marshmallow Days
Contact:

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

#19 Post by chocoberrie » Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:44 am

Funnyguts wrote:As far as choices versus no choices go, think about what it is you're inviting your audience to participate in. It's entirely possible that you decide that your game doesn't need direct player involvement to create the impressions that you want. But if that's the case, remember to think very carefully about why you want your creation to be in visual novel format, as opposed to a comic, a book, or a play. What advantages does the format give you that forces you to make a VN instead of anything else?
This really got me thinking -- thanks so much! Some of the messages that popped out at me as I was writing reminded me of myself and the difficulties I'm facing with regards to pursuing my own dream. I think this a universal thing -- many people have emotional obstacles to overcome and decisions to make about whether or not they want to pursue their interests or find new ones. I feel like by giving the audience options, they can choose which path to follow, and maybe if I wrote some of the paths well enough, the struggles of the main character will encourage them, inspire them, or make them think about their pursuits in some way.

I suppose I could explore formats other than visual novels... I've always wanted to write a comic!

User avatar
Funnyguts
Veteran
Posts: 417
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:31 pm
Projects: That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles, Ibuki Magica
Organization: Twin Turtle Games
Contact:

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

#20 Post by Funnyguts » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:05 pm

chocoberrie wrote:This really got me thinking -- thanks so much! Some of the messages that popped out at me as I was writing reminded me of myself and the difficulties I'm facing with regards to pursuing my own dream. I think this a universal thing -- many people have emotional obstacles to overcome and decisions to make about whether or not they want to pursue their interests or find new ones. I feel like by giving the audience options, they can choose which path to follow, and maybe if I wrote some of the paths well enough, the struggles of the main character will encourage them, inspire them, or make them think about their pursuits in some way.

I suppose I could explore formats other than visual novels... I've always wanted to write a comic!
I don't mean to scare you away from VNs, I'm just encouraging you to think more about the best way to use your mediums. Ideally, any good story will encourage/inspire/educate the audience. If you give the audience options, it's important to think about how those options allow players to communicate with the game, explore scenarios and concepts, and learn something about a small part of the world.
ImageImage Image
Petit Fours and Sushi: The best name for a Tumblog I could think of.
,%,..@@@,.Þ%,.@G,.@@,.% ...What? It makes sense to me.

User avatar
chocoberrie
Veteran
Posts: 254
Joined: Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:34 pm
Projects: Marshmallow Days
Contact:

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

#21 Post by chocoberrie » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:48 pm

Funnyguts wrote:I don't mean to scare you away from VNs, I'm just encouraging you to think more about the best way to use your mediums. Ideally, any good story will encourage/inspire/educate the audience. If you give the audience options, it's important to think about how those options allow players to communicate with the game, explore scenarios and concepts, and learn something about a small part of the world.
No no, you didn't scare me away! I see your point, thank you very much for your advice! In-game choices are important for the audience and should be used as an experience (and be meaningful). I think by playing more games, I'll be able to figure out how to write meaningful choices of my own. :)

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users