Why a visual novel?

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Epschy
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Why a visual novel?

#1 Post by Epschy »

Fellow VN writers, I'm curious to know what makes you choose visual novel as the format you tell your story in, rather than other mediums such as regular novels.

What stories do you think fits VNs the best? What kind of stories you think are better to keep as regular novels, and do you read and write regular novels too?
I'm curious to hear you think!

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Re: Why a visual novel?

#2 Post by Fuseblower »

To me, it's the "visual" part of visual novels that attracts me. Visual novels gives me the opportunity to use my watercolors as graphics.

As for stories that fit VNs best : I think that stories that are primarily told by dialogue are better suited than stories that are action orientated or stories that rely on mood. This is purely because of the format that is typically used by VNs : a bunch of sprites in front of a background and a dialogue box. Of course, Renpy isn't limited to this but it is geared towards it.

Take for example the works of Isaac Asimov. His stories are almost completely told by dialogue. Stephen King uses lots of dialogue too and has tons of characters. Such stories can be easily told by means of a visual novel (sprinkle in a CG or two for more descriptive parts).

Compare this to works of H.P.Lovecraft which rely heavily on mood and has little or no dialogue. Of course, Renpy can be used to tell a story by means of illustrated pages instead of sprites (my own "The Doomed Diner" does this) but is it really a visual novel then?

Or take the works of Lovecraft's buddy Robert E.Howard. His works are very action orientated. Howard was heavily into boxing and his descriptions of fights are brilliant but difficult to put into a visual novel.

The very wording of the story might be unsuited for VNs. Would anyone really want to break up James Joyce's prose into pieces that fit a dialogue box and put a couple of sprites on top of it? The "visual" part of the "novel" should complement the story, not distract from it.

Also, stories that are epic in scope and take up the reader to wild flights of the imagination are ill-fitted to VNs. Take for example J.R.R.Tolkien. Can you imagine sprites of Hurin and Melkor in front of a background of Thangorodrim and the dialogue box going like "Sit now there and look out upon the land where evil and despair shall come upon those whom thou lovest." (click to continue) "Thou hast dared to mock me, and to question the power of Melkor, Master of the fates of Arda." (click to continue) "Therefore with my eyes thou shalt see, and with my ears thou shalt hear and never shalt thou move from this place until all is fulfilled unto its bitter end..." (click to continue, an option menu appears...) "Does Hurin : A - Mock Melkor some more? B - Confess his love to Melkor? C - Reveal the location of Gondolin?".

Of course, there's also the audience which has interest in visual novels. I feel like they're basically drawn to dating stories and horror stories (and there was another genre, kinda slipped my mind ;) )

As for your last question : I don't write regular novels but I do read them (and listen to them, audio books).

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Re: Why a visual novel?

#3 Post by JeFawk »

The medium can be spread much better than just a novel. We're lucky that we (my gf and I) can both write interesting stuff, I can code, and she can illustrate amazingly.

So we combine all these skills and end up with an amazing game (we hope) and 0 marketing xD

Also even linear VNs have a higher replay value than books. If you have branching dialogues and different endings, the replay value skyrockets.
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Re: Why a visual novel?

#4 Post by Epschy »

JeFawk wrote: Mon Aug 28, 2023 9:47 am The medium can be spread much better than just a novel. We're lucky that we (my gf and I) can both write interesting stuff, I can code, and she can illustrate amazingly.

So we combine all these skills and end up with an amazing game (we hope) and 0 marketing xD

Also even linear VNs have a higher replay value than books. If you have branching dialogues and different endings, the replay value skyrockets.
Why does it matters a VN having a high replay value if one can only purchase a VN once?

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Re: Why a visual novel?

#5 Post by felix »

Epschy wrote: Tue Sep 12, 2023 11:29 pm Why does it matters a VN having a high replay value if one can only purchase a VN once?
Because it gives people more reasons to buy, if all you care about is how many copies you sell. More value for their money, in a way only games can achieve.

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Re: Why a visual novel?

#6 Post by numberposting »

I'm someone who enjoys working on creative projects relatively solo! With that, it's important to choose a medium that takes advantage of the skills you already have. I enjoy writing and drawing, and although I have very little coding experience, Ren'Py is very comprehensible and accessible, at least when compared to other game engines.
Also, my writing style tends to be super dialogue-heavy, which also lends itself to VNs. ^_^

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Re: Why a visual novel?

#7 Post by Epschy »

numberposting wrote: Wed Sep 20, 2023 3:13 pm I'm someone who enjoys working on creative projects relatively solo! With that, it's important to choose a medium that takes advantage of the skills you already have. I enjoy writing and drawing, and although I have very little coding experience, Ren'Py is very comprehensible and accessible, at least when compared to other game engines.
Also, my writing style tends to be super dialogue-heavy, which also lends itself to VNs. ^_^
Oooooh, dialouge-heavy stories do fit the visual novel medium very well!
I, on the other hand, am having a lot of trouble to write my first VN for a jam, because since I've always read light novels and regular novels, I think that most of my literally input came from books focused on description, which is why my current VN is coming out excessively focused on the MC rather than exploring the other character as well.

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Re: Why a visual novel?

#8 Post by Two Dollars »

I'm never going to make a movie, but the vn has many if not most of the same elements.

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Re: Why a visual novel?

#9 Post by HitheroNihil »

I went from watching YouTube let's plays of Doki Doki Literature Club and the Danganronpa series in mid-2017, to playing Katawa Shoujo for the first time in early 2020 prior to the COVID lockdown. My passion for visual novels started small, but then it grew exponentially until it reached where I am today, with me becoming an aspiring VN dev myself.

I see VNs in two distinct lights: 1) as an immersive narrative experience that leverages visual and audio elements in manner that a regular book cannot, and 2) interactive stories that can take you on an adventure where your participation matters in shaping the narrative as it unfolds. I tend to place them on a sliding spectrum of choice variety and significance, with one end leaning towards the kinetic novel style of storytelling, and the other end leaning towards interactive fiction but in VN form. Whatever the case is, I find this medium brimming with potential.

I feel that VNs are presented like stage plays, but are played like video games, which lends unique traits that are inherent to the VN style. In particular, I find that the VNs that shine the most are the ones that encourage the player to exercise their imagination, which makes them actively participate and share in the story. Theoretically this can work with any genre, but I'm personally fond of SoL moeges, since I think they excel at capturing and examining the beauty in the mundane.

I'd say there's not really much stopping a story of a regular novel from being adapted into a VN, or vice versa. Rather, I think it's better to think more about the potential it has for comics, TV scripts, and screenplays, and how they can provide a unique and economical alternative for presenting their stories. You can also have CYOAs and TTRPGs which present themselves in VN form and benefit from its visual-audio features of storytelling, while staying true to their choice-heavy narratives. There's a lot of promise with visual novels, and that's what excites me the most about making them.

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