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  #1  
Old 2007-10-12, 00:25
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Default Your thoughts on future directions for visual novels

I'm interested in hearing what everyone likes, dislikes and thinks could be done better in relation to visual novels today.

To this end, here's a little thought experiment:

Imagine yourself the project head for a new VN to be created in any way you deem suitable and marketed to an audience of your choice. What would you do? (The questions below each heading are suggestions only - feel free to phrase your answer however you like.)

1. What sort of game would it be?
What genre (storywise) would it be? From what perspective(s) would the story be told? Would there be a story at all? If so, how would it be structured? Would you be writing with a sequel in mind? Why?

2. How would the game be presented?
What genre (gameplaywise) would it be? Would you use one of the existing VN engines? Is there something you'd like to see done which isn't feasible with what's available today? Would you discard text altogether and use animation, like in School Days? Would you consider the use of 3d in any way? Why?

3. How would the game be produced/published/marketed?
Who would you like to see play/buy your game? Would you consider using doujin as a medium for pushing your games (as Type Moon has successfully done even after going corporate)? Would you release the game for free, as Kataoka Tomo famously did? Why?

Again, what I'm really interested in hearing about are particular things you think are being done well in VNs these days and would like to see in future games, and things you hate or are sick of and would like to see changed or improved.

What say you?
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  #2  
Old 2007-10-12, 01:29
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well, I guess I would:

- Voice the damn protagonist.
- _Show_ the damn protagonist.
- Not set the game in a school. Not a high school, not a university, not even one of those obscure high-school-ish in-betweens for girls to wear school uniforms to and attend high school classes but obviously they're all over 18.
- Have a fairly reasonable number of 'bad endings' (not necessarily 'bad' so much as non-'true' endings). While I think the approach that some games take (minori's come to mind) where only one or two choices actually decide the endgame and none of the other choices matter is fine, I think I'd like to try and make games a bit more replayable. Even something at ONE's level would be fine, though I'd hope to take it further than that.
- The game would probably be presented as a mix of AVG and NVL--most of the games I really liked were presented that way, with NVL for heavy-non-dialogue-text parts and AVG for discussion-heavy parts. Standard multiple-choice options, with perhaps the occasional click-on-a-map-to-proceed like in Soul Link and other titles.
- Probably no H. Not that I have a problem with H, but the story probably wouldn't work with it.
- I wouldn't be able to sell the game in stores to an English-speaking audience--just wouldn't be able to get the shelf space. I would like to sell to the English-speaking crowd, though, so if I heavily marketed the game and sold it over the Internet, that could work. There's always selling to the Japanese market, but I would have to be pretty sure of success to try that.
- OPENING VIDEO! I wouldn't go as far as hiring out a full animation team, but something that looks nice, like the second Tamayura OP, would be good enough.
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Old 2007-10-12, 04:35
GreatSaintLouis GreatSaintLouis is offline
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-I'm all for the 'no high school' concept, but in my experience I have yet to see a game take on university life as the general setting and would like to see where that could possibly be taken. Then again, the genre is nothing if not firmly grounded in its conventions, and as university students aren't prone to wearing skirted uniforms I doubt we'll ever see such a title.

-Make the H matter. Sex can be a powerful plot device if your story happens to work heavily with interpersonal relationships, but I have yet to see any sort of H-scene that is 100% written entirely in keeping with the rest of the narrative--it's like you have this temporary space-time rupture within the story's universe where body fluids flow freely and the characters somehow aquire markedly different personalities, and everything's fine the next day. Let's tone it down and keep it real.

-Multiple endings in a longer title. In keeping with what Asceai mentioned, it would be interesting to have routes quite different from one another once one gets past a reasonably early point in the game, so the player isn't left with the feeling that 90% of the game is the same on subsequent playthroughs. The other stories don't even need to be of the harem sort--I'd love to see multiple, vastly different endings revolving around a single heroine, stuff that could run the gamut between messy breakup/rejection to 'happy ever after' and everywhere in between. A good scenario writer could use this situation to create extremely complex characters with fairly realized reactions to a multitude of situations.

-Use the power of doujin. Obviously great works like Narcissu are a general exception as far as the resources typically invested in a VN, but I'd really like to see doujin-type works go hand-in-hand with larger commercial releases. Thanks to insani and the people who have worked on the al|together festivals, the English-speaking (-reading?) community has gotten a taste of the possibilities of the 'visual short story' as it were. Just as many writers dabble in short stories in between working on novels (or vice-versa), it would be interesting to see commercial companies create small, self-contained and entirely free stories that somehow relate to the commercial release. Fleshing out minor characters, creating new characters who have some connection to the main story--all would be ways to make a project stand out, get free publicity/interest potential fans, and hey--if you ever needed to make some extra cash between games and had a few free releases of that sort under your belt, you could polish them up and sell them as some kind of collection.

Last edited by GreatSaintLouis; 2007-10-12 at 04:37.
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  #4  
Old 2007-10-12, 10:01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreatSaintLouis View Post
-Make the H matter. Sex can be a powerful plot device if your story happens to work heavily with interpersonal relationships, but I have yet to see any sort of H-scene that is 100% written entirely in keeping with the rest of the narrative--it's like you have this temporary space-time rupture within the story's universe where body fluids flow freely and the characters somehow aquire markedly different personalities, and everything's fine the next day. Let's tone it down and keep it real.
Have you tried playing Tenshi no Inai Juuni Gatsu?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asceai
Have a fairly reasonable number of 'bad endings' (not necessarily 'bad' so much as non-'true' endings). While I think the approach that some games take (minori's come to mind) where only one or two choices actually decide the endgame and none of the other choices matter is fine, I think I'd like to try and make games a bit more replayable. Even something at ONE's level would be fine, though I'd hope to take it further than that.
Baldr Force comes to mind for this one. You have many branches in the plot, some of them unlockable only after you unlock other branches. Only about less than half of the endings are happy ones. There are a bunch of really bad endings and a bunch of "so-so" endings where you get some sort of bittersweet conclusion.
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  #5  
Old 2007-10-12, 12:43
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Originally Posted by Asceai View Post
well, I guess I would:

- Voice the damn protagonist.
- _Show_ the damn protagonist.
- Not set the game in a school. Not a high school, not a university, not even one of those obscure high-school-ish in-betweens for girls to wear school uniforms to and attend high school classes but obviously they're all over 18.
- Have a fairly reasonable number of 'bad endings' (not necessarily 'bad' so much as non-'true' endings). While I think the approach that some games take (minori's come to mind) where only one or two choices actually decide the endgame and none of the other choices matter is fine, I think I'd like to try and make games a bit more replayable. Even something at ONE's level would be fine, though I'd hope to take it further than that.
- The game would probably be presented as a mix of AVG and NVL--most of the games I really liked were presented that way, with NVL for heavy-non-dialogue-text parts and AVG for discussion-heavy parts. Standard multiple-choice options, with perhaps the occasional click-on-a-map-to-proceed like in Soul Link and other titles.
- Probably no H. Not that I have a problem with H, but the story probably wouldn't work with it.
- I wouldn't be able to sell the game in stores to an English-speaking audience--just wouldn't be able to get the shelf space. I would like to sell to the English-speaking crowd, though, so if I heavily marketed the game and sold it over the Internet, that could work. There's always selling to the Japanese market, but I would have to be pretty sure of success to try that.
- OPENING VIDEO! I wouldn't go as far as hiring out a full animation team, but something that looks nice, like the second Tamayura OP, would be good enough.
That pretty much describes Phantom of Inferno.
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  #6  
Old 2007-10-12, 14:47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered Coward View Post
Imagine yourself the project head for a new VN to be created in any way you deem suitable and marketed to an audience of your choice. What would you do? (The questions below each heading are suggestions only - feel free to phrase your answer however you like.)
The following are answers to my next VN project. I only have the perspective of a visual-short-story (doujin) creator, but am still inspired by commercial works.
Quote:
1. What sort of game would it be?
What genre (storywise) would it be? From what perspective(s) would the story be told? Would there be a story at all? If so, how would it be structured? Would you be writing with a sequel in mind? Why?
Surprisingly, it will be standard male protagonist 1st-person POV. He will be narrating the story as it occurs right before his eyes, in present tense. I've tried 1st-person female POV as well as 3rd-person, and I think I could have better pacing if I just ground myself with what I know (i.e. 1st-person male POV).

I don't write with sequels in mind, preferring to be efficient. I just make sure to execute the the priority ideas in my head, and that's that.

Quote:
2. How would the game be presented?
What genre (gameplaywise) would it be? Would you use one of the existing VN engines? Is there something you'd like to see done which isn't feasible with what's available today? Would you discard text altogether and use animation, like in School Days? Would you consider the use of 3d in any way? Why?
I dabbled a bit with SIM-aspects, but it does irk a few folks who'd rather play a straight VN. So no-frills VN it will be, either points-based or branching-based. Naturally, I would use Ren'Py again. I'll just try to be different in the presentation aspect. One can create a different atmosphere just by changing the textbox, the backgrounds style, or the type of sprites (headshot, side-headshot, full stand-up, half-stand-up, cut-out, etc.).

Of course, I would love to accomplish something like School Days or EF, but those games are just too ridiculously graphically-intensive, and I feel the story suffered somewhat (they have less text than an 'equivalent' game). I think just more creativity in layout is all that's needed to achieve an atmosphere -- no need to have constantly blinking eyes and flapping mouths and all that nice crap.
Quote:
3. How would the game be produced/published/marketed?
Who would you like to see play/buy your game? Would you consider using doujin as a medium for pushing your games (as Type Moon has successfully done even after going corporate)? Would you release the game for free, as Kataoka Tomo famously did? Why?
I used to want to go commercial one day, but I have a more lucrative day job for me lined up next year. So I'll remain freeware, and hobbies will remain fun.

Marketing? Hehehe, how's this: http://dafool.visualnews.net/ (That's it for marketing!)

Becoming 'famous' is purely circumstantial. I mean anyone can write a flame-filled blog, and that is sure to get him famous in internet circles. I'll just let my works speak for myself.

There are actually doujin-length, doujin-made games which are commercial, like those 1995-yen fetish games you find on DLsite. So in my opinion, achieving 2-4 hours playtime is enough in terms of scope. I just need to improve production quality so it is polished enough.

People have to realize this isn't Japan so the marketing is different. Meaning, you have to strictly delineate between ero and non-ero games. The commercial anime-inspired western games I know will either stick to non-ero (so they can market in the mainstream) or will go heavily ero (so they can use DLsite). Plus, it goes without saying most of them will be gameplay-based, not story-based.

Quote:
Again, what I'm really interested in hearing about are particular things you think are being done well in VNs these days and would like to see in future games, and things you hate or are sick of and would like to see changed or improved.
I'll probably never make a high-school romance setting with girls with candy-colored hairs but sharing the same facial features otherwise.
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  #7  
Old 2007-10-12, 15:56
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I'll probably never make a high-school romance setting with girls with candy-colored hairs but sharing the same facial features otherwise.
I could probably stand to do that, if I had a really, really good story that worked with that. But, well.. I personally think the school setting is kinda like the ero--it's there because it's expected for the genre, not because it's that good a thing to have. :/

From the English Wikipedia article on ONE, emphasis mine:
Quote:
The short-term sales of Moon., One's predecessor, did not match that of its predecessor and Tactics' debut title, Dōsei, so One was developed to be an easily guaranteed-selling school story.
So, um, yeah. =p
While the ONE team certainly managed to do something interesting with ONE, as with Kanon, AIR*, Clannad and Little Busters!**, they're all SCHOOL STORIES. I like school stories! But why does every game have to be one? :/

*well, there was a school in it, but I guess AIR might be the exception
**yes, it counts, bear with me here.

Last edited by Asceai; 2007-10-12 at 16:01.
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  #8  
Old 2007-10-12, 17:31
GreatSaintLouis GreatSaintLouis is offline
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Originally Posted by zalas View Post
Have you tried playing Tenshi no Inai Juuni Gatsu?
I haven't managed to come across it yet in my wanderings, although gp32 keeps telling me it's one of the best treatments of the subject in eroge. I think he also mentioned NNS' Sanarara along those lines.
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  #9  
Old 2007-10-15, 07:20
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they're all SCHOOL STORIES. I like school stories! But why does every game have to be one? :/
--------------------------------



i would like to see a VN in a "non violent" sci-fi setting. something like the "yokohama kaidashi kikou" or the "ARIA" world. hmmm. i think there is already a VN about ARIA out :)

i think school stories are good, but for the "25+" players/readers they should make some not - school related worlds.
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Old 2007-10-15, 20:20
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Random thought: School (and college) stories are easy to tell because the protagonist's commitments are quite small. It's one thing to change into another school club to follow a girl... it's another thing to change jobs, or to go to another town, or whatever.
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Old 2007-10-15, 20:59
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Hmm, that's a good point. A lot of the non-school VNs have a similar situation with the protagonist having few commitments. Games like Tamayura and Sharin no Kuni have the protagonist's 'job' being quite specific, and tied into the story. This ends up offering the same 'simplification' of the person's life, without having to put a great amount of detail into mundane activities e.g. work that tie up most of the protagonist's time.
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Old 2007-10-16, 05:37
DaFool DaFool is offline
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If you're not a Schoolboy, you're a Bounty Hunter or otherwise related to either law enforcement or usage of top-secret superpowers.

While I wish for there to be some VN starring a corporate mid-level product manager, I don't think there really are enough managers out there with enough time on their hands to make such a VN. Most people of the artistic inclination -- scenario writers -- tend to lead lives out of the corporate mainstream, I think.

Last edited by DaFool; 2007-10-16 at 05:40.
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  #13  
Old 2007-10-16, 07:28
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I dunno, I feel like pushing for Kinetic Novels :V

Works a bit better with what I've planned.

As for marketing, I'll go with suing the pants off my fans, rivals, and even international bodies if I have to.

Waaaaaaaaaaaait...

Just kidding. I'd friggen ask for donations at the end of every game I make, sell it cheap, and get my hands on whatever free marketing/PR I can get. It also helps if I help out the community around me out of the goodness of my heart, time-permitting. Volunteering at soup kitchens, donating a portion of what I earn from my games and donations to charitable organizations (no fanfare needed, I don't need to look like a hypocrite OR spend millions for marketing/PR), that sort of stuff. And being a very nice, pleasant person to be with. You don't need to spend big bucks to have good PR :P
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Old 2007-10-16, 20:35
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Here is my idea for an exciting, although somewhat convoluted visual novel:

Capitalize on the concept of 'Infinity Loop' (Higurashi, Infinity series, etc.)
In Tsukihime, Wind, and many other games, flags were used to lock and unlock scenes. Expand on this idea. Flags set off on one path could very well affect paths in a more involved manner than "on" or "off."

For example:
Path A.) Main Character gets stuck in a hole. The game creates an autosave file and gives a bad end.

Path B.) Main Character creates a ladder and places it in the hole.

Reload the Path A autosave. The Main Character who is stuck in the hole now has a ladder to climb.




In a more Romance-type setting, things could go like this:
There are events early on in the game that seem impossible to unlock because of an absurd Love Point requirement.
Once an ending has been reached, either have Love Points carry over to the next playthrough, or give the player a system to redistribute Love Points.
Through this system, the "main" heroine with the true storyline would ideally be a tsundere type character. She would start out with negative or insanely low love points, and the player would have to utilize the redistribution system in order to woo her.



In a simpler form, without having to deal with autosaves or Love Points, but still capitalizing on the Infinity Loop:
First playthrough is a dead-tree story without any choices. This leads to a 'bad end' and somehow the game's theory of the infinity loop is introduced.
In the second playthrough, the main character learns from a mistake made in the first playthrough, and choices are given in order to attempt to solve the problem.
Rinse and repeat until a true ending is reached.

This way would be a lot easier to write. Possibly even easier to write than today's visual novels. At its simplest, it would be simply a "Y" tree that keeps "Y"-ing on the left leg only.




EDIT: Quite fitting that I became "obsessive" with this post...

Last edited by rodan; 2007-10-19 at 20:47.
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  #15  
Old 2007-10-17, 03:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreatSaintLouis View Post
-I'm all for the 'no high school' concept, but in my experience I have yet to see a game take on university life as the general setting and would like to see where that could possibly be taken.
Have you tried playing Comic Party?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaFool
While I wish for there to be some VN starring a corporate mid-level product manager, I don't think there really are enough managers out there with enough time on their hands to make such a VN. Most people of the artistic inclination -- scenario writers -- tend to lead lives out of the corporate mainstream, I think.
How about a guy who quit his corporate position and runs away because he was sick of his life and being under the thumb of his father to become a HS gym teacher in another town?
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