VN's Without Narration

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Re: VN's Without Narration

#16 Post by Imperf3kt » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:11 pm

I see my first post is wrong lol. I assumed you had meant a voice over.
I now see that OP meant "Fred picked up the mouse", "Fred smashed mouse into internet", "Fred wins a cookie"

You could do something like:
Fred: Guess I'll pick up this mouse
Show an image of Fred picking it up
Fred: And show the internet who's boss
Show Fred with his fist stuck into his monitor
Fred: In your face internet, all your cookie are belong to me!

But in reality, this will get very repetetive, very quickly
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Re: VN's Without Narration

#17 Post by Katy133 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:22 pm

RotGtIE wrote:Why stop there? Let's go ahead with that idea about a Visual Novel with no text at all while we're at it.
I get where you're coming from, but to be perfectly fair, I'm a huge fan of The Arrival by Shaun Tan, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs, Dropsy, and Machinarium... Which all have lots of plot with no text, let alone narration. Though, granted, those are non-VN video games and books, which are different from visual novels (but I mean, come on. You can take elements from them and have them fit in a VN ;) ).

I guess if you don't plan on using narration to tell your story, you're going to have to be very creative with getting information across. I'd recommend looking at pantomime acting/stage plays, as well as Jacques Tati's films.

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Re: VN's Without Narration

#18 Post by trooper6 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:10 am

OP, look, you will never be able to please everybody.
Some people will only play your VN if it has anime style art. Some people will never play your VN if it has anime style art.
Going further, some people are really judgey. And they will declare your game not "really" a VN if it (insert opinion here).

You are the one making your art. Make your art the way you want to. If people only listened to what judgey people had to say, there would be all sorts of great games made using Ren'Py that we would never have. Make your art the way you want to.

You won't get some people to like it. But you probably don't want them as an audience anyway.

If your game is good and of good quality, you will find an audience. And you will have been true to your artistic vision. Other people have ideas of what a VN should be like. Let them make their own VN then. You make yours.
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Re: VN's Without Narration

#19 Post by fleet » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:21 pm

I concur with what trooper6 said in his 12 JAN post.
I make VNs and use narration mainly for transition scenes (such as "Later that day", or "Later, outside of the encampment".
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Re: VN's Without Narration

#20 Post by 8oni » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:05 am

Hmm, I will just add my personal experience here. When I release my demo a years ago, someone told me that my vn lack a narration. They feels like the story progress to fast.

So, on my demo vn, the MC is wake up and then immediately go to the kitchen to eat breakfast and I was suggested that I should put something like 'I wake up and smell something nice from kitchen. I decided to get up and see what it is.'

And I think it's good that I found out that my vn need more narration.
So well, it all depends on your writing I guess. Try make it first then find beta tester, someone that you can trust that will butcher you without any hesitation lol believe me they are the one that will help you see the flaw on your vn, then see what they say about the story. Is it clear enough for them? Because well, since you say you will use changing expression etc then the best is to make it into a vn form first to test if you really can deliver the vn without any narration using your method.

You will always find people that dislike what you do anyway so trust in your gut and your beta tester.

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Re: VN's Without Narration

#21 Post by Jain » Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:57 pm

I don't have much to add that RotGtIE didn't say better than I could have managed, but this topic has been haunting me for days and I just could not leave it alone.

There are places in a VN that don't need narration/description. Character sprites, for instance. They are usually visible on the screen, so in that way the character and the player/reader occupy the same viewpoint - you see what they see, so when a character enters a scene, you don't need to go into a paroxysm of description, of lace and color and light.

But there are plenty of things that character sprites, musical cues and background images cannot easily or clearly convey. Lets just say Kara is in the center of town waiting for someone and sees that another person is walking slowly down the edge of the street. But in what way? Is it a slow, dragging step, that shows the person is favoring their ankle or leg?

Kara averts her eyes, because she suspects the man is a veteran favoring an old wound, and nobody important supported that stupid squabble in the south, and anybody who went deserved what they came back with. Then a disheveled beauty catches her notice at the edge of the market. Kara watches as the woman lurches into the alley to avoid a passing carriage. Kara can tell she’s a lady from her clothes. She looks dazed and confused. Her fine slippers are in tatters and her feet are bruised and bleeding. She walks with the painful tread of a noblewoman who’s been running away from her palace all through the night, and she’s clearly never walked more than the length of a street without a palanquin. Kara rushes off to find a guard, abandoning her appointment. She has a missing princess to report!

This kind of information does the very important job of setting the scene for the player/reader. It can characterize Kara, by showing what attracts her notice, and how she thinks/feels/reacts to the people and situations she’s involved in. And it’s far easier to convey information this way in words, than it would be to draw out every scene, unless you have unlimited art resources at your disposal. Most of us don’t. Most of us are rolling in debt, not dosh.

And consider smaller details. Most character sprites are drawn standing, people usually don’t have different sprites for standing and sitting and other positions because it would get very expensive, very fast. But people don’t JUST stand around and talk in real life and neither should VN characters. It’s necessary (at least to those of us who can’t draw) to pick a few poses for VN characters and stick to them, but in the story itself, they shouldn’t be limited by your character art budget.

When people talk, they fidget, they shift their weight, they toy with their hair. Maybe they pace a bit, or they flip disinteresdly through a book as another character delivers some unwelcome news. As in your example, ForkAndKnife, you COULD have a character respond to these actions in dialogue. “Get off that table, damn it!” But that is more to convey information to the reader, that someone climbed on the table, than it is to serve the dialogue. That person is more likely to just say, “Get down!” or “You could have taken your shoes off, first.” In your way, ForkAndKnife, the character sees things the player/reader cannot. They no longer share the same eyes because you're deliberately refusing to use narration. Worse, it damages the dialogue as characters are forced to become the narrator for the sake of the audience, which leads to unnatural lines and awkward and sometimes confusing characterization Nothing is solved and several issues are born.

As a potential reader I would find it very irritating and lacking in depth if a VN I was interested in was constructed in the way you suggest, for the reasons you have suggested. It makes me question your abilities and your instincts as a writer. To me it seems as if you are afraid of narration and your justifications as to why it’s not necessary only exist to serve that fact. I hope you can do a lot of reading going forward, to change your perspective.

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Re: VN's Without Narration

#22 Post by Antizaba » Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:12 pm

As a potencional reader, i would have NO objections. Actually, I love experiments with styles and i don't think games should follow some general rules, just to satisfy some standart. I've read visual novels with extremely much narration, but also some with almost no narration at all. I like the fact each game is different.

My advice is to do what feels good to you. Forcing yourself in style unnatural to you doesn't usually end up well anyway. Maybe it will end up perfectly with no narration, maybe you'll decide to add some narration after all. Who knows. Develop your own style :)

(don't forget: different poeple like different things. no matter what you do, there will be people who like it, and people who dislike it. don't let it discourage you)

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Re: VN's Without Narration

#23 Post by ForkAndKnife » Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:09 am

Wow, thank you guys for all the replies and words of encouragement! There's so much difference of opinion and some back and forth here, too. Sorry I haven't responded until now. After reading a few comments, I dove deep into a rabbit hole of self-doubt and being afraid to continue writing.

I have read all the responses and y'all made some excellent points. I will absolutely keep everything in mind. After thinking things over for a few days, I realized I will most likely need narration for the second half of the VN. A lack of narration for the second half would not leave readers with a clear picture of what was happening. Now, I'm not going to back off from my personal views on leaving out narration. I thought it highlighted the characters' slapstick, in-your-face personalities, which is what I was going for (think It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia or some of the newer episodes of Family Guy). I know these types of characters aren't for everyone, but they are my favorite types. With the exception of this piece, I always use narration. This piece has been an experimentation for me, especially because it is different than the genre I usually write. After reading and rereading, I realized what I have created does not accurately represent me as a writer.

SO, I've decided I will scrap most of what I have now (only ~5,000 words, so not much of a loss) and revamp everything from scratch. The more I thought, the more I realized I was not completely in love with what I had written. Some scenes were not what I had envisioned, the relationship dynamics were off, and it didn't reflect my best work or my best thoughts. I don't like the hole I've written myself into.

In case anyone was wondering what the hell I was doing writing a VN script with no narration, my answer is: I wanted to make a VN that was like a TV show or movie. I guess that may defeat the purpose of the "novel" in visual novel, but who's to say every VN needs narration? There's no list of requirements out there. There's VN's without sound, without visuals, without any sort of dialogue... I do not like the idea that a VN has to follow certain conventions, and I certainly would not want any other aspiring VN maker to be told this! This idea can cripple creativity, and the one thing every good VN should have is creativity. Maybe a VN wouldn't be a "true" or "traditional" one without x,y, and z, but in the end, typical or atypical, it's all about the execution.

Okay I'm off my soapbox. Now I'm off to bed because I have the flu and I'm delirious. Thank you all again so much. You have really helped me out.

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