Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

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ChroniclerOfLegends
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Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#1 Post by ChroniclerOfLegends » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:08 pm

I am starting work on the writing for a few of my projects, and I am curious about people's opinion on the {w} tag.

I feel as I am writing my story, that I may be overusing the tag. It seems natural to me to use the {w} tag anywhere there is a natural pause in conversation.

Here is an example passage of how I have been using it:

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	"You return to the flower seller's wagon, thankfully it doesn't look like she is busy at the moment. {w}Her flowers seemed to be the favorite of the market today, as she had sold through most of what she had brought."
        plr "Excuse me, I have noticed how well your flowers have been selling today. {w}I saw them on display when I got to the market today, and it was quite the display of colors. {w}Would you possibly consider buying any flowers? I have some I cut from my garden this morning."
        "She considers your request for a moment."
        flrSeller "Normally I wouldn't have any need to buy flowers, but at the rate I am going today it wouldn't hurt to buy a few extra. {w}Can I take a look at them?"
        "You take the bundle of roses from your basket and allow her to look at them."
        flrSeller "Wow, these are quite beautiful. Not any wild rose. {w}You grew them yourself?"
        "You nod"
        flrSeller "These are very good quality, I shouldn't have any trouble selling them."
        "Setting the bundle of roses down for a moment, she counted out a handful of coins."
        flrSeller "Will this be enough?"
        plr "Yes, thank you very much. {w}I just need a little extra to buy some essentials today."
        "She hands you the coins and you put them away in your purse."
From a player's perspective though, I am not sure if this would seem annoying because it means much more clicking to advance the story. Do most people prefer to have the entire dialogue display without pauses? What would be considered normal use of this tag?

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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#2 Post by solarProtag » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:40 pm

As someone who's been experimenting with the {w} tag, and also hearing feedback from my dev friends I'd recommend doing the {w} tag with the timer added in for the text delay to pass by itself.

As a player it feels a bit tedious to have to click to advance the text yourself, especially in situations where some creators really abuse the {w} and {p} tags, so having the text advance by itself give this kind of ease to the player.

I also like the auto advancing because it creates a sense of your character speaking. An example is in Breath of the Wild where the dialogue pauses are a way for the player to absorb the line of dialogue, and to also really imagine the character you're talking to actually speak it, with them pausing like you would.

That's just my opinion ofc, but it's a good topic.

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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#3 Post by ChroniclerOfLegends » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:05 pm

That is a neat idea.

I personally never use auto mode when I play vn games, as I like to advance the text at my own pace. That being said, I notice that in most games, the text is all displayed in a single block (either instantly or the text types itself in.) with no pauses. In my experience, most games I have played I only needed to click a single time to make the entire text box go ahead and appear, and then the next click advances to the next block of test or next character speaking.

For those that do not enjoy having to click multiple times to advance the text, I can see how liberally using the {w} tag could end up being quite annoying.
Adding a time to the wait so it automatically advances after a brief pause seems like a big step in the right direction.

Question though: is there any setting where the waits can be used, but the user clicking once goes ahead and displays all of the text, skipping any {w} that it may encounter?

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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#4 Post by Imperf3kt » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:11 pm

In my personal opinion, most of the time you used the wait tag, you should have created a new say statement instead.

I only use the wait tag when I want to emphasise something or add dramatic effect. For example, when something pops up on screen near the end of the sentence, or if the character talking is struggling to remember/think of something.
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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#5 Post by papillon » Sat Jun 16, 2018 2:00 pm

I've only encountered one writer who puts a {w} at every natural pause. Every period, maybe even every comma, a tiny little delay. They do have auto advancements in them, however, I am a super-fast reader and I find this ANNOYING AS HECK because to go at my normal reading speed I'm now having to click up to five times per dialog box! And I can't just wait and see because it's not always clear if the current pause is a brief pause or an end-of-dialog-box pause.

The only thing I can do is put autoplay on and let the game play out by itself with no input from me. Which is quite frustrating and makes it hard to keep my interest in the game. Definitely turns me off playing it again.

So for MY tastes, even an auto-advancing {w} is going to make me hate your game unless you have coded it to refer to a waitspeed variable that the player can adjust in preferences.

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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#6 Post by Mammon » Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:57 pm

I think I read the same VN as Papillon and this VN was also the first thing that came to mind when I opened this topic, it is indeed the worst way that you could use the {w}. Incredibly annoying when that feature is overused, just like how any breaking the reader's control of rapidly reading the story can ruin any story.

I myself use the {w} a lot too, but only as {w=0.5} (0.5 seconds, sometimes more or less seconds depending on the pause I want with 0.5 as the proper length for a regular pause between sentences in the dramatic... pause way.). That way, it's much less unbearable and annoying, and maybe even skipped if the player clicks through. I can't remember if it does.
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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#7 Post by Rastagong » Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:20 am

I do personally use the {w} tag a lot: between sentences (after the period), and in rare occasions, with a delay in the middle of a sentence to emphasise a certain rhythm.

Is it… that bad? Both as a reader and as a writer, I really enjoy when the rhythm of speaking seems natural. Most people read sentence sentence by sentence anyway, so as I view it, it makes sense to display the text sentence after sentence, adhering closely to the speed of the speaking character and to their current tone.

That said, I may be saying so because I use the NVL mode a lot! And in NVL mode, it makes sense to closely control when and how the text is displayed. In particular, during dialogues, you usually have to quickly hide the NVL screen and show it again to let the reader see expression changes or to make sprites appear and disappear. So the {w} tag can be a natural ally. I know the NVL screen is kind of old-fashioned, but… I still appreciate it a lot.
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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#8 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:11 pm

Rastagong wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:20 am
I do personally use the {w} tag a lot: between sentences (after the period), and in rare occasions, with a delay in the middle of a sentence to emphasise a certain rhythm.

Is it… that bad? Both as a reader and as a writer, I really enjoy when the rhythm of speaking seems natural. Most people read sentence sentence by sentence anyway, so as I view it, it makes sense to display the text sentence after sentence, adhering closely to the speed of the speaking character and to their current tone.
Yeah, it can be that bad. Most proficient readers can read between 250-300 words a minute. Let's assume most text boxes or say statements are 20-30 words. That means most readers will be able to see and understand everything in about 5-6 seconds. Avid readers may be able to read everything even faster - say, the type of readers who regularly indulge in long games that make them read constantly like visual novels. So players are going to read and understand everything far faster than normal speaking rhythm.

Unless you have actual voice-acting for everything, there is no point in trying to emulate speaking rhythm with how the text appears. Players will read everything at a glance and get annoyed having to constantly click to advance everything faster. Don't waste your player's time. If you have a visual novel script that is 200,000 words (that's 70,000 less than the typical paperback novel and is on the shorter side for a lot of VNs) and you are using tags to slow down the text even by TWO SECONDS per text box or say statement that means you are artificially wasting 5.5 HOURS of your player's time. (Assuming 20 words to a text box, or about 10,000 say statements over all game paths.)

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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#9 Post by Imperf3kt » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:33 pm

To be honest, I have actually got a project which makes excessive use of the wait tag.
However, that particular project happens to be poetry, and not a standard visual novel.
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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#10 Post by Katy133 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:42 pm

I use {w} quite a bit, usually for comedic or dramatic timing, to emphasise a point.

Here's a comedic example from one of my visual novels, Must Love Jaws. The {w} is in the last line:

Code: Select all

b "I simply said that sharks {i}can{/i} live in lakes. Not that there's one {i}in Lake Huron!{/i}"
    m "But why can't there be, Bernard?"
    b "There's never been a shark found there before. Where would it have come from?"
    show m angry
    m "I {i}don't know.{/i} All I know is that I saw one."
    m "Don't believe me? Why don't you come on to the lake with me? I'm sure I'll be able to spot it again!"
    b "You think I have nothing better to do with my time than go for a ride in your tub of a boat?"
    m "Yes."
    m "And it's not a tub! It's a trawler."
    b "I almost care.{w}.. {i}Almost.{/i}"
Note how I turn a period (.) into an ellipsis (...) using the {w}'s placement in the script.
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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#11 Post by Rastagong » Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:26 am

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:11 pm
Rastagong wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:20 am
I do personally use the {w} tag a lot: between sentences (after the period), and in rare occasions, with a delay in the middle of a sentence to emphasise a certain rhythm.

Is it… that bad? Both as a reader and as a writer, I really enjoy when the rhythm of speaking seems natural. Most people read sentence sentence by sentence anyway, so as I view it, it makes sense to display the text sentence after sentence, adhering closely to the speed of the speaking character and to their current tone.
Yeah, it can be that bad. Most proficient readers can read between 250-300 words a minute. Let's assume most text boxes or say statements are 20-30 words. That means most readers will be able to see and understand everything in about 5-6 seconds. Avid readers may be able to read everything even faster - say, the type of readers who regularly indulge in long games that make them read constantly like visual novels. So players are going to read and understand everything far faster than normal speaking rhythm.

Unless you have actual voice-acting for everything, there is no point in trying to emulate speaking rhythm with how the text appears. Players will read everything at a glance and get annoyed having to constantly click to advance everything faster. Don't waste your player's time. If you have a visual novel script that is 200,000 words (that's 70,000 less than the typical paperback novel and is on the shorter side for a lot of VNs) and you are using tags to slow down the text even by TWO SECONDS per text box or say statement that means you are artificially wasting 5.5 HOURS of your player's time. (Assuming 20 words to a text box, or about 10,000 say statements over all game paths.)
I see! Yes, it makes sense for very long VNs to try to limit the time spent reading. It's not that much of a concern for me though, I don't think I ever want to go over 50k words in a VN, it's long enough already. ^^

That said, idk, I think I picked up this habit from Higurashi and Umineko (or other older VNs with NVL display in general), and I don't think their systematic pauses at the end of sentences ever terribly annoyed readers? This may be because at least the text speed is high enough or adjustable, and auto mode is available, but overall, it worked really well for to enforce a certain pacing —especially in Higurashi where there are frequent horror or typographic effects.

I guess I'll keep this in mind, but yeah, I'm still too attached to the {w} tag as a means to control pacing, especially in NVL mode, ahaha.
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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#12 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:41 am

Rastagong wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:26 am
That said, idk, I think I picked up this habit from Higurashi and Umineko (or other older VNs with NVL display in general), and I don't think their systematic pauses at the end of sentences ever terribly annoyed readers? This may be because at least the text speed is high enough or adjustable, and auto mode is available, but overall, it worked really well for to enforce a certain pacing —especially in Higurashi where there are frequent horror or typographic effects.
It annoyed me a lot in older VNs. I used to read one paperback novel every 2-3 days back when I first discovered VNs, and all the pauses annoyed the heck out of me. Especially the whole "..." thing they used to do a LOT.

Like everything pauses and waiting have their uses, like you mentioned for horror or other specific effects. But it loses its power if over-used and abused. It's like salt - a little bit can make the flavor of a dish come out, but too much and you ruin the flavor.

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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#13 Post by Rastagong » Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:17 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:41 am
It annoyed me a lot in older VNs. I used to read one paperback novel every 2-3 days back when I first discovered VNs, and all the pauses annoyed the heck out of me. Especially the whole "..." thing they used to do a LOT.

Like everything pauses and waiting have their uses, like you mentioned for horror or other specific effects. But it loses its power if over-used and abused. It's like salt - a little bit can make the flavor of a dish come out, but too much and you ruin the flavor.
I see, it completely makes sense if frequent pauses prevent you to read at your usual speed.

Hm, I guess I'll consider using a custom pause tag that can be altered with a preference?
Sometimes, I feel like players expect to have too much control about VNs, though. Accessibility's very important, but I feel like the imposed slow pace and other seemingly inconvenient aspects of VNs is part of what makes their charm!

Thank you for the explanation anyway, I had never thought about pauses in this way, and it's very interesting! ^^
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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#14 Post by ChroniclerOfLegends » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:15 am

Thanks everyone for the replies!

The discussion this sparked has given me quite a few insights to dialogue pacing and player preferences. I think I will be able to make the text in my game much more enjoyable to read now.

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Re: Proper use of the {w} tag in visual novels.

#15 Post by arty » Sat Jul 07, 2018 3:56 am

I try to use them very sparingly. Like the other people in this thread already pointed out, they can disrupt the flow of the text. In my script, currently about 10k words, I used the {w} tag only a couple of times so far.

When I use them, it's not necessarily to indicate a natural pause when speaking. It's more of a "surprise twist" thing. When a character suddenly thinks of something to add or changes their mind. Example:

Code: Select all

"They're probably hanging out somewhere and no one told me about it.{w} To be fair, my phoneless a** can be hard to get a hold of."
Another example:

Code: Select all

ll "You're not the first one who showed up already after hearing what happened.{w} The most composed one so far, though."
h "Thanks."
Basically, I'm using them when I want to add a little unexpected-ness. The reader thinks the line is over and we move on, but instead there's a little twist. I think it can spice things up when used with care.

I also agree that "..." lines should be very rare. They don't add much to the experience. There's other ways to indicate silence.
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