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View Full Version : Possibilities for (graphic) Minimalism


Claudio
2005-12-18, 21:29
Short "Hello, I'm a newbie" paragraph, skip if in a hurry :
Greetings. I am new to this forum and it was only very recently that I became acquainted with visual novels (Not to bishoujo, though; I'd wager my very first was Season of Sakura, since everything else was shallow hentai, which I didn't appreciate much). I find them wonderful and hope to see a thriving market developing; I bought Planetarian for 45 pesos (roughly 10 dollars + S&H), applied the patch and was moved to tears, then Narcissu and Kanon (THANK YOU HAELETH, this game was too good to miss!) and blah blah blah. Ok, enough.

Now, I'm sure you might have already discussed the virtues of graphically minimalist works such as Plain Song and whatnot. I'm quite aware of the fanbase's preference for translated Japanese works, but let's put it this way :
I loved Plain Song. I hated ITSDTA - too inconsistent for my taste.
So I spoke unto the fiery depths of my mind : Hey, here's where the Coulomb barrier breaks, all my life I have been separated from creating a visual novel by a chronic lack of drawing ability, but now I can see the light! I might just be able to take all those old drawings and star charts and stories and give them life in a quality my words alone could never portray!

But hell, that's just being too optimistic. I know my Murphy laws well enough, and I wanted to know YOUR take on a "filthy gaijin" with a knack for writing (and programming) trying his hand on minimalist graphic novels. NOT REN'AI. All the english v-novels I found floating about included amateur bishoujo drawings and dates.

Ok, this might have been a little *too* long of a first post. Sorry all and thanks.

Shii
2005-12-18, 22:26
This sounds like a brilliant idea. And as far as I know, you would indeed be the first to create a non-romantic visual novel outside of Japan.

l|ammamama
2005-12-18, 22:39
Having translated it might make me a little biased, but I really enjoyed Plain Song as well. It honestly didn't feel like the lack of character art detracted from the game.

If you think you have enough talent to write somthing that another person would want to read for leisure (god knows I couldn't) then you shouldn't let a lack of artistic talent stop you. There's a lot of games out there that, like Plain Song, don't use any original art at all. It's possible to get some pretty nice backgrounds with a few stock photos and the right filter.

I know there's a forum out there for people who make visual novels in english, but I can't remember the url off the top of my head. I'm sure one of the other forum gnomes will come through with the assist though.

Haeleth
2005-12-19, 06:23
I know there's a forum out there for people who make visual novels in english, but I can't remember the url off the top of my head.
That would be Lemma Soft (http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/)'s forums, particularly "Game-Makers' Corner" and "Ren'Py". The focus there is, as the OP says, on the ren'ai genre, but the techniques they discuss and share information about there will still apply to any work of this type.

PyTom
2005-12-19, 07:34
I'm not totally sure that there hasn't been a non-romantic, original english language visual novel. Especially if you lose the requirement for anime-styled character art, there are enough games out there that I'd be surprised if there wasn't something that fell into the visual novel category. Depending on if you consider visual novels to be a genre or a medium, the "The Negotiator" flash games may qualify.

Ren'Py is probably misnamed, as it's intended for works in the visual novel medium, rather than just Ren'Ai games. It was named before I truly understood that distinction, and now it's a bit of a pun and not worth changing.

Shii
2005-12-19, 09:00
Depending on if you consider visual novels to be a genre or a medium, the "The Negotiator" flash games may qualify.Well that's certainly... different. They seem to have reached the same medium through an entirely separate approach.

Nevertheless, that's more of a training course for negotiating, not a novel.

PyTom
2005-12-19, 10:08
Well that's certainly... different. They seem to have reached the same medium through an entirely separate approach.

Yes, which is why I sort of dislike the use of the word "first". It's hard to establish primacy, especially in fields that do not have comprehensive archives.

Nevertheless, that's more of a training course for negotiating, not a novel.

Yes, but could it still be a visual novel? I think it depends on if you consider visual novels to be a genre or a medium.

Compare this to graphic novels. The graphic novels I own include McCloud's Understanding Comics and Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe. Both of these are non-fiction works, but yet are still classified as graphic novels. I also have several graphic novels that are best described as collections of short stories, each a few pages long. So I think that the term graphic novels has come to represent a medium, rather than a genre.

I'm not sure anyone has a good idea of what the term "visual novel" means in English. Depending on who you ask, it can mean games made by a particular company (IIRC, the Leaf visual novel series), a genre of games (focused on long and involves stories, as opposed to short stories or sex romps), or a medium in which people click and make menu choices to advance the story. (Another definition I've seen limits it to the subset of that medium where the text fills the entire screen, rather then only a small box on the screen.)

I favor the inclusive media definition, especially since "Adventure Game" has a pre-existing definition in English. I tend to use Visual Novel as an overarching term for games where the primary gameplay consists of clicking and making choices from menus. I tend to use the term Kinetic Novel for a visual novel where there is only one path through the game, and Dating Sim for a visual novel that is complex enough that the software, rather then the game-maker, is responsible for choosing in what order segments of the game are shown.

Now, alot of this may consist of taking terminology from Japan and applying new meanings to them as they enter the English-language community. But hey, turnabout is fair play.

Claudio
2005-12-19, 15:07
I favor the inclusive media definition, especially since "Adventure Game" has a pre-existing definition in English. I tend to use Visual Novel as an overarching term for games where the primary gameplay consists of clicking and making choices from menus. I tend to use the term Kinetic Novel for a visual novel where there is only one path through the game, and Dating Sim for a visual novel that is complex enough that the software, rather then the game-maker, is responsible for choosing in what order segments of the game are shown.

I'd say that's pretty much the general consensus nowadays (in the scene, at least). I think any possible wording might ultimately be far better than the casual "cartoon" impliance. Believe me, it's not so nice when your 4 year old nephew says something along the lines of "look, the uncle's watching cartoons", especially considering that the spanish term "dibujitos" has always striked me as particularly derisive.

Oh, I've been tinkering around with the Ren'Py and it's pretty nice. I still haven't decided on either using it or creating my own (very simple) text & background engine with SDL as a media access layer (last thing I did with it was a primitive Scorched Earth clone).
What I gather is that - for a simple game with few branches - the save/flag system would be easy to implement, but I'd be overly simplistic with the font rendering (bitmap, anyone), and blah. I have already experienced the horror of word-wrapping in the past.
It will eventually boil down to how much I am overwhelmed in the Uni when the first quatrimester (uh, I think you have semesters in most parts of the world) of the year begins.

Thanks for all the replies!