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  #1  
Old 2011-01-06, 01:38
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Default Opinions on OELVNs from fans who play primarily Japanese games.

After being somewhat surprisingly disappointed from the level of the games on the lemmasoft forums (why I was surprised, I can't tell you, but daaaaaayum), I randomly decided to play the demos of a couple of recently released commercial games from there in hopes of better quality after putting out several games.

I don't understand how they make money, but someone is buying this stuff!

Then, I wondered if it was just me, who is used to games of a certain quality. So, from the people here who fight to get Japanese games translated into their language and obviously enjoy them, a few questions!

Because Katawa Shoujo is a free project, I'm not counting it for this, because I figure that with seventylleven years of trolling for free art on 4ch and 2ch, anyone probably would be able to put together a high-level VN.

1) Have you ever played one of the available commercial Western-based games? (Since other Asian countries still manage better countries than the West...)
2) Which did you play, and what did you think of the art and the writing?
3) Do you think Westerners will come out with games of quality equal to Japanese VNs?
4) Would you buy them if they did? (Or are you scarred forever...)
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  #2  
Old 2011-01-06, 03:26
dorkatlarge
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This reply might be a bit TL;DR. Sorry.

My interest in visual novels began with the translated version of Three Sisters Story. My interest in VNs originally written in English began with Tales of Lemma. Over the years, I've played a variety of translated games and stories originally written in English.

I've found it a bit challenging lately to find translated games that appeal to what I like. During 2010, I read one route in Edelweiss. The current flawed translation didn't help, but I felt it was decent but formulaic. I read the fan translated version of Canvas 2 for maybe a couple hours, but felt unsettled by the fact that all the relationships are older male teacher x younger female student. And while I enjoyed the PS2 version of Sakura Wars SLML, I had a number of complaints, such as the constant need to succeed at quick-time events. I found it easier to enjoy Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side DS, because there was a distance between me and the main character (I'm a guy in real life). TMGS was easily one of my favorite games of the year.

Also during 2010, I decided to start purchasing indie games that I felt were promising. So over the months, I bought the following:

* The Flower Shop (one of my favorites)
* Date Warp (impressive, though I haven't replayed it)
* Spirited Heart (looks like a good answer to the Princess Maker franchise, though I haven't made time to learn how to succeed)
* Shira Oka (I've talked to the staff at cons, and feel their game is an interesting Tokimemo alternative... though I'm waiting for them to create an Easy Mode, as stated on their forum)
* College Romance: Rise... (adequate, but I was wondering if it should be an H-game, and I didn't enjoy the pacing)
* Fatal Hearts (the mandatory puzzles were not enjoyable)

Also, I enjoyed a variety of freeware OEL VNs and romance games during 2010.

I don't have any skills to critique visual art (other than "I do/don't like it..."). It's become tough for me lately to enjoy visual art outside my favorite genres, but I can sometimes forgive media for low quality writing if it has excellent visuals, and vice versa.

That said, when I was listening to one of the last two episodes of Animucast, I agreed with one of their broad generalizations, namely that eastern media often has very good art, and that western media often has really good writing. There's a squillion exceptions, of course.

Though there are a few games that are relevant to my interests that require understanding written Japanese (namely Sakura Taisen 1-3, most of the Tokimemo franchise, and the Idolm@ster series), I haven't taken the time to learn the language. I'm not that dedicated as a fan.

One last thing... here's a comparison that may or may not work. Up until a couple years ago, I was optimistic about translated eastern RPGs, and felt they were thriving. But during 2010, it was tough to find a praiseworthy eastern RPG, let alone one with a translation. Instead, there were a number of games in an eastern RPG style (call them OEL if you want) that were succeeding, and it looked like western RPGs had become dominant. While I haven't found a western RPG to be personally interesting since the NES version of Ultima 4, I can look at today's acclaimed games and say, "That sound interesting and well-made, even though I may not like the art or the 3D action aspects." It kinda scares me to think that my old favorite category of translated eastern RPGs is dying.

That said, if you look at eastern visual novels, there's a lot of formulaic H-games that cater to niche audiences. There's still a few worthwhile complex games and unique stories. Right now, most western visual novels and romance games have little to no budgets, and are only available through niche download services. But it wouldn't surprise me if in the next few years, OEL VNs and romance games get more respect and money, and then start to dominate.
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  #3  
Old 2011-01-06, 04:16
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I have played through Jisei, and tried to make it through Date Warp, Flower Shop and Cute Princess Knight.

Jisei is probably the worst written thing I've ever seen someone trying to sell. I'm not sure where the idea that any of the writing was good in this game, but though I think it has the best art for an EVN, the writing was so shit that I basically skipped parts in hopes that it would stop being so freaking horrible. I wish the writer would take a few extra creative writing classes, or read a few actual mysteries before continuing with that.

Date Warp..."feh" kind of describes my whole take on it, but basically not my bag of tea overall. I suppose it wasn't especially horrible, but overly cutesy art really never resonated with me in the least.

Flower Shop, again, a game I couldn't like. I've tried to make it through this game at least 4-5 times, and the opening dialogue is just completely intolerable (and drags on too long).

Cute Princess Knight, even if you ignore the bad art, has writing and gameplay that isn't good enough to make up for it.

I also played the opening to Fading Hearts, and played through way much more than I wanted to of Shira Oka, and both were what I would call writing of an extremely mediocre amateur quality. (And for the price, bad game design, bad voice acting, and attention to marketing and having a "real" animated video and animated sprites over just getting halfway decent still art, Shira Oka is probably the worst as far as what it wishes it was but isn't.)

I'm not sure at all that EVNs "tend to have good writing". I think they have writing that Americans understand more clearly over crappy fan translations, but I've never had that problem because I understand Japanese. With the contrived dialogue of EVNs, the bad plotting, the obvious direction...it's like reading a slightly above mediocre fanfic to me, and I'm really about equilibrium: if commercial quality is 100, then for a good balance your art should be 50 and your writing should be 50. But if your writing is only a 30, then your art needs to rise to 70. I have yet to see a game that made up for one feasibly with the other, in my opinion, but I also get paid to do art and edit writing, so again, might have a bias going on.

As far as freeware ones, the only EVN that I thought had decent writing at all was a freeware one, pretty much for the main reason that the dialogue actually sounded like things people would say, as opposed to being dictated from a poorly written script.

Maybe I just touched on more badly written games, but it doesn't make me hopeful when there are only a couple of writers who are repeatedly writing games for the same 3-4 groups, and none of them really get that they should hire an actual writer, as opposed to someone who wrote another equally bland VN and calls themselves a writer.

A lot of VNs in Japanese have little to no budget, but they come out better because Japanese work ethic is more "work hard in a group for free now, all make money" as opposed to the western idea of "pay me now" or "but I could be doing my own projects instead of drawing for yours" (and for all the artists that say that, they never, ever do get that project done).

I think EVNs will eventually reach a good spot, but I'm not sure any of the established groups are going to be the ones to do it because of this mentality that seems to go around of "it's good enough". They are making money, so they're undoubtedly good enough for the ultra tiny EVN fan niche, but I can't see any substantial progress in quality, or expansion of the genre over all, being made until they try a bit harder to pull in fans who enjoy high quality and will not mind paying more for better quality.

Despite the H-gameness, I'm really glad Katawa Shoujo is around, just because I feel like it will raise the bar substantially.
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  #4  
Old 2011-01-07, 02:56
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Originally Posted by dorkatlarge View Post
But it wouldn't surprise me if in the next few years, OEL VNs and romance games get more respect and money, and then start to dominate.
Yes, this may happen. But only if they ban eroge in Japan (which is not that unthinkable, considering latest government censorship efforts).
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  #5  
Old 2011-01-07, 07:31
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Originally Posted by Pirkaf View Post
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But it wouldn't surprise me if in the next few years, OEL VNs and romance games get more respect and money, and then start to dominate.
Yes, this may happen. But only if they ban eroge in Japan (which is not that unthinkable, considering latest government censorship efforts).
OELVNs are never going to become more popular than Japanese VNs. Seriously. It's the equivalent of saying that some high-school-set Naruto fanfic is going to become more popular than Naruto.

To explain, part of the draw of VNs are that they *are* Japanese. Would as many people love Katawa Shoujo if everyone in it had western names and went to an american high school? Definitely not. Would as many people play it if it didn't have a distinctly anime-esque art style? Definitely not. And as "good" as Katawa Shoujo is, it only really scrapes the level of "average moege" anyway if you compare it to other VNs out there.

Simply put, when people think of Japanese VNs they think of Key games, Fate/Stay Night, Ever17 etc, all of which offer strong art or a strong story (yeah, I know some people will disagree yadayada you get my point). When people think of OELVNs... well, bad art, bad story and "weeaboo" all come to mind. "They're just amateurs who want to make a VN for the sake of calling themselves VN creators rather than to tell a good story" for example, or worst of all, "They're a bunch of losers who want to be Japanese." And considering the seriously godawful quality of some of them, I can't blame them for thinking that.

If OELVNs want any kind of respect in a community that plays translated games, and thus have very high standards, they're either going to have to match the quality of the Japanese VNs (which is no easy task, to say the least) or they'll have to change audiences and stop mimicking the Japanese. Where they are now is fine if you want to make a VN and let a few friends play it for giggles, but if people want to make money out of it or be taken seriously by the public, then they don't have much choice.

(Also, eroge isn't going to get banned. Remove your tin hat or go back to 2009.)
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  #6  
Old 2011-01-07, 16:37
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They suck. All of them!
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  #7  
Old 2011-01-07, 18:19
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Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
To explain, part of the draw of VNs are that they *are* Japanese. Would as many people love Katawa Shoujo if everyone in it had western names and went to an american high school? Definitely not. Would as many people play it if it didn't have a distinctly anime-esque art style? Definitely not. And as "good" as Katawa Shoujo is, it only really scrapes the level of "average moege" anyway if you compare it to other VNs out there.
Agreed. As much as people complain about weeabooness or whatever, anime fans play VNs. The way to actually sell this stuff is to make it appeal to anime fans, and then MAYBE branch out after you're rich.

Quote:
If OELVNs want any kind of respect in a community that plays translated games, and thus have very high standards, they're either going to have to match the quality of the Japanese VNs (which is no easy task, to say the least) or they'll have to change audiences and stop mimicking the Japanese. Where they are now is fine if you want to make a VN and let a few friends play it for giggles, but if people want to make money out of it or be taken seriously by the public, then they don't have much choice.
I wouldn't really advise they heavily change the audience cause average western gamers aren't really all about reading in their "games".
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  #8  
Old 2011-01-08, 19:23
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Visual novels belong to the interactive fiction and English community is more then capable to produce high quality games in this genre. OELVNs can really use some inspiration from excellent English authors like Andrew Plotkin, Adam Cadre, Emily Short, etc. When English authors go as far as using Japanese names for the characters, it's pretty cringe-worthy. Works like that will never graduate from the fanfic level and a fanfic, no matter how awesome it is, is still a fanfic.
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  #9  
Old 2011-01-08, 23:52
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Originally Posted by LoSs View Post
They suck. All of them!
Please dont be to Frank about it....

at least be more gentle....hehe =D

well I do played some OELVN....

the things that I can say about Visual Novels either english made or japanese made....

Bad art but Good Story
I don't mind the art. but I can say the artist to improve his/her self.

Good Art but Bad Story
The art would be a waste if the story is bad.......=<
I will really mind the story, at least the write must find a good editor(an evaluator of the story)

Good Art and Good Story
THE BEST!.

What I looking for a Visual Novel is a Story that make me excite.

M Typemoon to ABHAR level or even higher than that.

OELVN is still the level of Needs to do there best to improve...
but I didn't say they suck that much I also find several doujinshi japanese visual novels almost the same level. which also try to improve bit by bit.....
there be a time that OELVN might go head to head with the Japanese Visual Novel.
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  #10  
Old 2011-01-09, 03:29
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If Tsukihime was an OELVN people would just say "bad art lol", dismiss it out of hand and no one would have heard of it.
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  #11  
Old 2011-01-09, 06:43
DaFool DaFool is offline
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As someone who's been involved in the EVN scene for almost 5 years (and slowly withdrawing), I'd like to get on my soapbox a bit.

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If Tsukihime was an OELVN people would just say "bad art lol", dismiss it out of hand and no one would have heard of it.
Same with Higurashi and original Umineko.

The average EVN quality is about on par with a 1-2 hour DLsite or al|together title. Which is exactly what you expect from teams of 1-3 people and free or cheap resources.

There's never going to be an EVN that rivals the quality $100 JVN because there is just no local market for it.

Katawa Shoujo, "definitive" as it is, is a one shot phenomenon, since there's no way you get another project as massive and community-driven as it is. Not to mention all the devs and artists that it had to chew through to get to its current state. Its popularity is what kept it alive to recruit replacement talent. And it's all because of the art of Raita... it's actually a fangame, no different than if someone grabbed concept art made by Huke or Tony Taka. So technically speaking, the original spark was still a Japanese source.

Most of the current commercial EVNs are actually targeted at the GxB / Otome market, since they're currently underserved by JAST, mangagamer and the fan translation scene. In addition, 'pure' visual novels don't do well... most Western consumers prefer simulation or RPG elements in their games.

I only know of one or two long projects that target the traditional BxG VN core audience. If you go to Lemmasoft today, the typical forum member is a girl in her late teens to early twenties with a deviantart account... and she doesn't really care too much about authentic Japanese this or that, just pleasant stories and handsome anime guys. So yeah, she doesn't have the 'exacting high standards' as people here have, nor does she care.

The early LSF people of which I am a part, are now mostly silent. But I can vouch for the writing quality of the early games despite the totally shitty art. I'll remember a few as really good writers, Mr. E for instance.

So basically what I'm saying is the most of the people have already given up or making their last uber-long and utterly draining projects, and the new generation to replace them prefer Otome games. It is utterly pointless and not worth the effort to try to rival the "best Japanese visual novels" since I would rather just buy translated visual novels.

As has been suggested, we are targeting other markets in the general indie scene... look here:
http://www.indiegames.com/blog/2011/...adventure.html
#2 and #3 were prototyped in Ren'Py

So that's the general direction that future Ren'Py games will be going... towards the more experimental, but not Japan-centric direction.
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  #12  
Old 2011-01-09, 11:40
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Originally Posted by DaFool View Post
The average EVN quality is about on par with a 1-2 hour DLsite or al|together title. Which is exactly what you expect from teams of 1-3 people and free or cheap resources.
Bullshit. I don't know about DLsite titles, but I know that al|together titles, even though on average the worst among translated non-nukige titles, are a lot better than OELVNs. Katawa Shoujo and The Dandelion Girl aside (neither were from 'the OELVN scene' but projects from /a/ and /jp/ respectively), I have yet to see an OELVN with the same quality as, for example, Red Shift or A Midsummer Day's Resonance.

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Originally Posted by DaFool View Post
Katawa Shoujo, "definitive" as it is, is a one shot phenomenon, since there's no way you get another project as massive and community-driven as it is. Not to mention all the devs and artists that it had to chew through to get to its current state. Its popularity is what kept it alive to recruit replacement talent.
Katawa Shoujo's quality was reached simply because people actually tried to do it right for once. Katawa Shoujo may be unique right now, but I'm sure that in the future there will be more actually good OELVNs.

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Originally Posted by DaFool View Post
If you go to Lemmasoft today, the typical forum member is a girl in her late teens to early twenties with a deviantart account... and she doesn't really care too much about authentic Japanese this or that, just pleasant stories and handsome anime guys. So yeah, she doesn't have the 'exacting high standards' as people here have, nor does she care.
And that's exactly what's wrong with the OELVN scene. As an artist of any kind, you are supposed to care about the quality of your works. You should always try to make your works as good as possible, and you should always strive to become better. It's exactly because this fanfic writers group doesn't care about making better stories and keep praising their fellow "writers"' pieces of crap that they never get any better.

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Originally Posted by DaFool View Post
So basically what I'm saying is the most of the people have already given up or making their last uber-long and utterly draining projects, and the new generation to replace them prefer Otome games.
A VN doesn't have to be long to be good. "The Dandelion Girl" (the visual novel) was short AND good. And "they're Otome games" is absolutely not an excuse for a lack of quality, all you have to do is switch the genders of the characters involved and any BxG plot would work as otome game.

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It is utterly pointless and not worth the effort to try to rival the "best Japanese visual novels" since I would rather just buy translated visual novels.
Such a complete lack of ambition is disgusting. The best Japanese visual novels were written by people as well. If one keeps improving, they will eventually rival the best writers. But if one gives up from the start, or even worse, never even attempt to improve, you will never reach your goal. Even though you may never reach your goal, there is no excuse for not even trying.
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  #13  
Old 2011-01-09, 18:19
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VDZ: "The Dandelion Girl" is an adaptation of a published short story, so it fails the 'original' criterion of OELVN. As far as I know the story is still under copyright, so it's blatantly illegal, too. It does look like a decent example of putting the visual back into amateur visual novels, but I would not put it on too high a pedestal myself.

I do agree with everything you say about ambition, though. At the very least, I don't think people should charge for their games if they haven't tried their utmost to make them on par with other doujin titles. You have the right to create whatever you want for free, but asking $10 for a piece of work you're well aware is no Higurashi, Narcissu or even Katawa Shoujo strikes me as hubris and/or utter disrespect for those fans who think by generously opening their wallets they'll raise the bar on OELVNs.
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  #14  
Old 2011-01-09, 21:14
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VDZ: "The Dandelion Girl" is an adaptation of a published short story, so it fails the 'original' criterion of OELVN.
I find that interesting, as although I haven't read many OELVNs, there was only one that I actually liked. And that being Echoes of Thunder, it was also based on an existing novel.
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  #15  
Old 2011-01-13, 09:53
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It's exactly because this fanfic writers group doesn't care about making better stories and keep praising their fellow "writers"' pieces of crap that they never get any better.
to be fair, the people actually selling games are generally a lot less dippy and everything's-great-let's-hold-hands than the freeware kids who don't care how much it sucks, they just want to MAKE A GAEM OMG. They're at least _trying_ to succeed.

Unfortunately, resources for decent editing and critique is scarce here. On one side you have fangirls who say everything english is great. On the other side you have weeaboos who say everything english sucks balls. The little 'teacup' where some old lemmasoft people have slunk off to is still the same tiny handful of old lemmasoft people who've been being criticised from the start. So even if writers try to turn to someone for help in improving - and many of them do! - they're not going to be pushed much past their starting level.

And in the larger game development community, half the downloadable games on sale these days barely manage readable Engrish, and half the mainstream AAA video games are roundly mocked for how generic and dull their writing is. There isn't a large source to draw from on how to do decent video game writing, much less for the complexities of visual novel plots which are unfamiliar to the larger Western audience.

Quote:
At the very least, I don't think people should charge for their games if they haven't tried their utmost to make them on par with other doujin titles. You have the right to create whatever you want for free, but asking $10 for a piece of work you're well aware is no Higurashi, Narcissu or even Katawa Shoujo strikes me as hubris and/or utter disrespect for those fans who think by generously opening their wallets they'll raise the bar on OELVNs.
Have you _seen_ some of the stuff for sale on DLsite? The Japanese certainly charge $10 for things lightyears away from Higurashi/Narcissu/Katawa Shoujo.

Also, don't attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. Many of these authors believe they _have_ done a good job. And if the only feedback they ever get is either "Everything is great!" or "Everything is terrible!" they can't learn much.
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