Japanese Influence on English Visual Novels

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Japanese Influence on English Visual Novels

#1 Post by lamb » Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:30 pm

(Forgive me if this has been brought up recently.)

As a casual observer of the english language visual novel community for a good two or three years now, it's clear to see that a vast majority of original visual novels are in some way influenced by Japanese games series or culture, as evidenced by the widespread popularity of anime-esque art or use of inherently Japanese settings/concepts. The West (being American and European developers) has a history of similar game genres, such as text based adventure games or interactive fiction yet is not so prevalent. I'm not here to say that this is necessarily a 'bad' thing, but it does make me want to bring up my observations to a wider audience for discussion and reflection.

Is this simply because Japanese animation / gaming has such a big influence on internet and hobbyist game creation communities as a whole? Is there a downside or gaps in the visual novel community that you see as a result of this influence? These are just some basic questions I pose right now, but I hope you can see where I'm going with this.

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Re: Japanese Influence on English Visual Novels

#2 Post by firecat » Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:25 pm

japanese games are unique as they inspire users to learn what that kind of thing the developer has added. most japanese developers write reference to their hometown or legends they have heard in many years. one example is my game: http://firecat.itch.io/bourgeois

since i'm familiar with that part of town, its common knowledge for me to write my experience in that town than make up stuff that doesn't exist. many western developers think they can just stuff and call it a day, no that never works, expectedly with school (i seen so many mistakes). there has to be something related to the experience the developer, not give facts.

this is why so many western developers dont get the japanese style right, they relayed on anime for answers then give a real meaningful story of the town or characters. if the western developers can do something similar in the usa/eu then maybe there would be interest in the western development.


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Re: Japanese Influence on English Visual Novels

#3 Post by KittyWills » Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:24 pm

That's because the "Western" text based gamers are all hiding in the TWINE program. lol

In all seriousness, I think it's all the language that's used. Renpy markets it's self as a "Visual Novel" program. That terminology is used to refer to Japanese text based games. So it's going to attract fans of that genre. Programs, like TWINE market it's self as "Text Based" or "Choose Your Own Adventure" so it's going to attract a more Western audience since that's what we call those games.

I'm pretty active is both circles and there are some very large gaps between two even though what we do is pretty similar. VNs seem very romance based while CYOA are very Mystery/Horror based.

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Re: Japanese Influence on English Visual Novels

#4 Post by trooper6 » Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:45 pm

I tend to avoid Japanese Influenced EVNs...so I'm not all that big on that side of the EVN scene. I tend hang out in the "art game" side of the EVN scene. So, there are people who are into things over than EVNs that are copying JVNs. And if you look to EVNs that don't market themselves as Visual Novels, there are lots and lots of games that aren't Japanese influenced (and that aren't often talked about here).
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Re: Japanese Influence on English Visual Novels

#5 Post by Chibi Subaru » Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:11 pm

I think part of this is based on what the developers' interests are and also what they think their art or writing will more fit into. You also have to think what your target audience is into. I've been into the otome mobile app stuff for a little over two years and have noticed what the fanbase over there want in their games.

I especially saw this when it came to Voltage Inc, both their Japanese and American branches. The American branch made some Westernized stories of already existing games from the Japanese branch with some changes to the plots to fit the American culture, for example, how the characters talked. They even changed the art style to western artwork. Many fans didn't like this as it changed their characters a lot, the use of a lot of profanity that wasn't really needed, and they didn't like the art style.

Recently the American branch came up with the AmeMix series and seems to be doing well. The stories are Westernized, but the art is more anime influenced. People are more willing to try it than their older games. It took them two years to find out what their audience really wanted: westernized stories, western-influenced characters, but with anime art style.

I think a number of visual novel fans came into the genre from otome or Japanese (influenced) visual novels, which is why I think there is a bigger want of anime/Japanese influenced writings and art in this genre.

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Re: Japanese Influence on English Visual Novels

#6 Post by Enigma » Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:17 am

Kinda funny that I see this thread, the most common question I get about my game ends up being "why is it set in America" follwed by "What's happened to the rest of the world". I actually don't see that happen to often with games set in Japan, buuuuuut I'm not really worried about it. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Visual Novel tends to relate to a specific Japanese product, even the same type of game made in the west would probably use the name adventure game.

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Re: Japanese Influence on English Visual Novels

#7 Post by papillon » Tue Jan 05, 2016 6:00 pm

I'm honestly not sure where you're trying to go with this. Are you talking about games being influenced by Japan, or are you talking about games trying to look Japanese? They're very different things.

If you're making standard visual novels, you are influenced by Japanese works, because the whole genre concept is deeply rooted there. Even if you've never played a Japanese-origin visual novel, you are still influenced by them, and influenced by people who were influenced by them.

Of course, the original Japanese visual novels were strongly influenced by Western games.

It's rare for people to create things that are strongly divorced from artistic traditions (see: outsider art)

A game using non-anime art, not set in Japan, not about either romance or mystery, etc, may be further removed from its Japanese influences but the influences are still present.

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Re: Japanese Influence on English Visual Novels

#8 Post by gekiganwing » Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:47 am

To repeat a phrase that I have probably used a bit too much: "Create the story that you want to write." In other words...

* Choose any genre or format.
* Let the story's events occur at any time and place on Earth. Or an entirely fictional setting.
* Include lots of gameplay, or none at all.
* The story can be as short or as long as you want.
* Include as many (or as few) choices and endings as you want.
* Use any kind of art style.

Don't compel yourself to create a clone or an imitation of Tokimeki Memorial or To Heart. Instead, create a story or video game that represents who you are. Reference fiction and art that you enjoy. Include references to local places and customs if they're relevant. No matter what you make, strive to help readers care about your fictional world and its characters.

You can make any type of story when creating a comic -- it doesn't need to cling to the outdated stereotype of "episodic story of all-good hero fighting all-evil villains." Likewise, you can make any type of story when creating interactive fiction -- it also should not hold to an outdated stereotype of "vaguely defined protagonist has a G-rated adventure with mostly abrupt endings." In other words, don't let your story be defined by genre assumptions or others' expectations.
papillon wrote: Of course, the original Japanese visual novels were strongly influenced by Western games.
The Portopia Serial Murder Case was written in 1983, and was one of the oldest OJLVNs. It's a hybrid adventure game with a serious mystery story.

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