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Visual Novels...maybe we have something here.

ColtColt .45ColoradoRegistered User regular
edited January 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
The following was a blog post I made on a separate website. While the objective of it was to spark some conversation, it never really happened. I'm posting it here to hopefully do just that. The images are spoiled because this was originally a blog post and they look a little weird interrupting the flow on a forum post. Also, there are links marked NSFW, but the content in them isn't tits everywhere. Some people in them posted NSFW material in the linked threads that I can't change.

--

Visual novels. They hold some infamy among internet culture. Not really games, more computer novel. The vast majority of them come from the Japanese market and very few have gained notice outside of Japan, and even less have gotten attention off the fact that there is, more often then not, a lot of sexual situations in them. Copulation! How scandalous. While some games like the Phoenix Wright series, Hotel Dusk, and Trace Memory are all great examples of enjoyable, funny, and genuinely interesting, these are the exceptions I'm talking about. This is a big assumption from someone pretty ignorant on the subject, but a vast majority of visual novels shown around tend to not be more then a lot of blatant smut.

I have, however, plated through one. Melty Blood is a fighting game series spun off from Tsukihime. I played Tsukihime because I had genuine interest in where the characters were from. The story was cool and I got a good novel out it, something that I felt the adult content only impeded. I enjoyed it as a novel, which made me thing at the time that there were some of these that really tried to tell a good story, but this was years ago and I didn't consider it since.

There is a forum I go to on a regular basis that...isn't exactly the height of intelligent conversation. I've been on it for five years tho and it's hard to leave when so many things get talked about. About four weeks ago in the video game section, someone brought up a visual novel they played called Yume Miru Kusuri. The thread bombed pretty hard. Check it here (NSFW). The first response sealed it's fate pretty well. For a few pages it became a breeding ground for trolls. Then a few people who decided to play the game came out and started to talk about it in a positive light, saying that it was pretty good storytelling and, like I said about Tsukihime, the adult content tended to detract from it. I don't know this, I didn't play it. While I did argue for the idea that it could be a good story (I'm "Banned?" in that thread), I also really did not want the trolls and flamers to win that conversation.

(NSFW)
So...could visual novels actually be an output for great story? Sure. I enjoyed Tsukihime as a novel. People claimed that Yume Miru Kusuri was good. Fate/Stay Night was a visual novel that got turned into an anime, so it had to do something right. I remember a few of my friends showing genuine interest in finding out more about Fate/Stay Night. And when I ask that question, it's more in concern with visual novels that have adult content and scenes.

(NSFW)
And then, two days ago, someone posted about another (NSFW) visual novel. Called Katawa Shoujo, the origination of this was from 4chan. I can hear you sighing from here. Because that seemed like such a selling point for the OP, the thread quickly deteriorated into nothing but "Hey, we can have sex right?" over and over and over. It didn't get the same defense as Yume Miru Kusuri. Dispite all this, I checked out it's website (SFW). I don't know why. I'll blame 2 A.M. curiosity. While I didn't go in with high expectations (this is 4chan after all), I was pretty taken aback at how well the people who were working on this presented themselves. It dosen't look like an amateur production in the least. Reading the history of development until now, it's amazing it even got off the ground and is what it is today. (I recommend reading that.)

The game is about a high schooler named Hisao Nakai who suffers from a chronic heart condition (one that I had myself in a much more minor form). He didn't know about it and has a heart attack one day, putting him in the hospital for four months. Because of his condition, his parents deem it necessary that he switch school to one more suited to his needs, one that specializes in kids in school with disabilities. When he gets out of the hospital and changes environments, he deals with some serious culture shock.

So, they have demo out which contains Act 1 of Katawa Shoujo. It's acceptable content, nothing anyone here can't take, SFW and the like. I downloaded and installed it and played for three hours. I can't remember the last time I sat down and read a book for three hours. I can't say that the writing was totally gripping and had me by the balls, but it was interesting enough and most of all, I was still amazed that this as an amateur team doing something like this. While I only have one experience to go off of in terms of what is professional and what isn't in the VN world, I was impressed. The art and writing were great and I didn't see any real flaws in what was going on. It was really good, and the complete opposite of everything you'd come to expect from a VN if you've been on the internet long enough.
25601-132587-thisiswhatimeanjpg-620x.jpg
25601-132587-thisiswhatimean2jpg-620x.jpg
This is what I'm talking about.

So...

Could visual novels actually be an output for great story?


Sure.

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Colt on
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Posts

  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy The Astral PlaneRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    i just skimmed this but isn't this essentially a graphic novel?

    Casual Eddy on
  • deadonthestreetdeadonthestreet Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    i just skimmed this but isn't this essentially a graphic novel?
    More like choose your own adventure, with pictures

    deadonthestreet on
  • Vincent GraysonVincent Grayson Frederick, MDRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Seems that way. A graphic novel presented in a way that made it somewhat interactive, but not quite as puzzle-based as "adventure" games might be interesting, although I'd be amazed if we ever saw high quality writing.

    Vincent Grayson on
  • ColtColt .45 ColoradoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Cut up from Wikipedia...

    A visual novel is an interactive fiction game featuring mostly static graphics, usually with anime-style art. Visual novels are distinguished from other game types by their extremely minimal gameplay. Typically the majority of player interaction is limited to clicking to keep the text, graphics and sound moving. Most visual novels have multiple storylines and many endings; the gameplay mechanic in these cases typically consists of intermittent multiple-choice decision points, where the player selects a direction in which to take the game.

    Seems that way. A graphic novel presented in a way that made it somewhat interactive, but not quite as puzzle-based as "adventure" games might be interesting, although I'd be amazed if we ever saw high quality writing.

    And that is the whole point of the post. Maybe there is something there. I did use two examples of this.

    Colt on
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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    It's possible, but most writers want to tell a more specific story, and will focus their efforts on that, so you won't get a very large number of good writers even considering it.

    Incenjucar on
  • projectmayhemprojectmayhem Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    First two images:

    WHAT THE FUCK

    I say overall it's an interesting idea, however I feel that my attention span would only last about 20min for something like this unless the writing and the images to go along with them were something really special.

    projectmayhem on
  • LanzLanz ...Za?Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    It does seem interesting, though reminds me, would we consider things like Hotel Dusk/etc. Visual Novels, or would they be closer to PC Adventure games? Or something actually in between?

    That said, I've heard some good things about Katawa Shoujo in the anime thread I think. Though one thing that bothers me in that screen shot is I can't help but copyedit the text in my head and think "shouldn't that be 'do I surprise myself.'?"

    Lanz on
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  • Last SonLast Son Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Yea those first two images ain't exactly SFW, even if there is no outright nudity in them.

    Last Son on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Also: If you haven't sat and read a book for three hours lately you are reading the wrong books.

    Incenjucar on
  • LanzLanz ...Za?Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    It's possible, but most writers want to tell a more specific story, and will focus their efforts on that, so you won't get a very large number of good writers even considering it.

    On the other hand, it does seem like it'd be interesting practice to deal with how branching paths your stories could take based on your protagonists actions.

    Lanz on
    waNkm4k.jpg?1
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Lanz wrote: »
    On the other hand, it does seem like it'd be interesting practice to deal with how branching paths your stories could take based on your protagonists actions.

    Certainly, but the actual time required to do so is going to put it well out of the way of widely successful writers. Writing two hundred versions of the same novel isn't very efficient.

    Incenjucar on
  • ColtColt .45 ColoradoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Last Son wrote: »
    Yea those first two images ain't exactly SFW, even if there is no outright nudity in them.

    Edited.
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Also: If you haven't sat and read a book for three hours lately you are reading the wrong books.

    I haven't been truly enthralled in a book for years. While I have books that I've enjoyed reading, nothing has grabbed me to the point where I lose track of time.

    Colt on
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  • NocturneNocturne Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Colt wrote: »
    Last Son wrote: »
    Yea those first two images ain't exactly SFW, even if there is no outright nudity in them.

    Edited.

    Call me picky, but I would edit them so they are linked instead of embedded. The way internet monitoring works at some places they could just skim through recently accessed pictures and not really understand the context.

    I'm just saying that I personally wouldn't be happy if I was at work and clicked on this thread and those pictures automatically downloaded.

    Nocturne on
  • HozHoz Cool Cat Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Not Safe for Social Life.

    Hoz on
  • ColtColt .45 ColoradoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Nocturne wrote: »
    Colt wrote: »
    Last Son wrote: »
    Yea those first two images ain't exactly SFW, even if there is no outright nudity in them.

    Edited.

    Call me picky, but I would edit them so they are linked instead of embedded. The way internet monitoring works at some places they could just skim through recently accessed pictures and not really understand the context.

    I'm just saying that I personally wouldn't be happy if I was at work and clicked on this thread and those pictures automatically downloaded.

    Done then.

    Colt on
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  • Element BrianElement Brian Peanut Butter Shill Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    So once again, putting NSFW in front of the spoiler doesn't exactly help the people at work. It would be very wise of you to put "VERY NSFW" in the title.

    Element Brian on
    Switch FC code:SW-2130-4285-0059

    Arch,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_goGR39m2k
  • ColtColt .45 ColoradoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    So once again, putting NSFW in front of the spoiler doesn't exactly help the people at work. It would be very wise of you to put "VERY NSFW" in the title.

    I don't know what the difference is between "NSFW" and "VERY NSFW". One or the other, it isn't going to be safe for work. Now that I've edited it to say "NSFW" and have just the links, what more can be done?

    Colt on
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  • NocturneNocturne Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Yeah it's fine now, linking questionable pictures instead of embedding is the important part, so it's cool.

    Now back on topic: I think I agree with the analysis that most artists work very hard to have a story told in a specific way, so you don't get very many good authors writing in the "Choose your adventure" style.

    Nocturne on
  • juice for jesusjuice for jesus Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Colt, you might get a better reception for this in the anime thread. We discuss VNs there on occasion, since some have made the transition to anime. I know somebody was talking about that Kawata Shoujo game recently. Just don't post any Yume Miru Kusuri pics cus I waste a lot of time at work in there :P

    juice for jesus on
  • ColtColt .45 ColoradoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Colt, you might get a better reception for this in the anime thread. We discuss VNs there on occasion, since some have made the transition to anime. I know somebody was talking about that Kawata Shoujo game recently. Just don't post any Yume Miru Kusuri pics cus I waste a lot of time at work in there :P

    I saw the anime thread but I wrote so much I figured it could warrant a separate discussion. If that was the place for it, my bad. :)

    I also don't plan to post any more pictures. What I have above is what I wanted to get out on the table.

    Colt on
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  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited May 2009
    I find it amusing that you didn't mention Ever17, which is pretty much the only good VN that's been professionally localized.

    And completely 100% porn free too.

    Aroduc on
  • juice for jesusjuice for jesus Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Colt wrote: »
    Colt, you might get a better reception for this in the anime thread. We discuss VNs there on occasion, since some have made the transition to anime. I know somebody was talking about that Kawata Shoujo game recently. Just don't post any Yume Miru Kusuri pics cus I waste a lot of time at work in there :P

    I saw the anime thread but I wrote so much I figured it could warrant a separate discussion. If that was the place for it, my bad. :)

    I also don't plan to post any more pictures. What I have above is what I wanted to get out on the table.

    No, it's not that you posted in the wrong place. There's definitely room for discussion of the merits of "choose your own adventure" type literature, separate from the Japanese/anime style. Just expect to catch a lot of flack for the content of some (most) of these games.

    juice for jesus on
  • ColtColt .45 ColoradoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Aroduc wrote: »
    I find it amusing that you didn't mention Ever17, which is pretty much the only good VN that's been professionally localized.

    And completely 100% porn free too.

    Never heard of it before.
    Colt wrote: »
    Colt, you might get a better reception for this in the anime thread. We discuss VNs there on occasion, since some have made the transition to anime. I know somebody was talking about that Kawata Shoujo game recently. Just don't post any Yume Miru Kusuri pics cus I waste a lot of time at work in there :P

    I saw the anime thread but I wrote so much I figured it could warrant a separate discussion. If that was the place for it, my bad. :)

    I also don't plan to post any more pictures. What I have above is what I wanted to get out on the table.

    No, it's not that you posted in the wrong place. There's definitely room for discussion of the merits of "choose your own adventure" type literature, separate from the Japanese/anime style. Just expect to catch a lot of flack for the content of some (most) of these games.

    Catching a little (intelligent) flak is half the point. I'm all for debate about it.

    Colt on
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  • TeaSpoonTeaSpoon Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I read the wikipage to the first vn you mentioned. Holy crap that's some fucked up shit. It mentions strangulation sex at some point, I think.

    TeaSpoon on
  • B:LB:L I've done worse. Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    First of all,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iw1pyjdMOYk


    Secondly,
    Aroduc wrote: »
    I find it amusing that you didn't mention Ever17, which is pretty much the only good VN that's been professionally localized.

    And completely 100% porn free too.

    [SIZE=+3]PHANTOM OF INFERNO[/SIZE]


    The best visual novel games plays out like a great audiobook. Except it has pictures that may or may not be crudely drawn.

    B:L on
    10mvrci.png click for Anime chat
  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited May 2009
    Well, check out Ever17 then.

    PC VNs tend to have porn because, you know... sex sells. The really successful ones get the porn stripped out and ported to consoles. If you have any degree of fluency in Japanese, I could give you a laundry list of some really enjoyable ones, but I don't really play too many straight up VNs. Japan makes a shitload of VNs every year, but I find that the really great ones are the hybrids.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oH3k8pZYVxE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EajraAWzZEo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCg_D4ZEj0s

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6TnzPvUIIk

    The only real difference between them and games like Disgaea, Odin Sphere, Starcraft, etc or what-have-you is that they have more text and (usually) less gameplay.

    And MEH on Nitro+. I've never liked their stuff at all. They just love their altered reality as a plot device way too much.

    Aroduc on
  • PataPata Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    First two images:

    WHAT THE FUCK

    Second one's a doctored shot.

    I have no idea about the first though.

    Pata on
    SRWWSig.pngEpisode 5: Mecha-World, Mecha-nisim, Mecha-beasts
  • ColtColt .45 ColoradoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Aroduc wrote: »
    Well, check out Ever17 then.

    PC VNs tend to have porn because, you know... sex sells. The really successful ones get the porn stripped out and ported to consoles. If you have any degree of fluency in Japanese, I could give you a laundry list of some really enjoyable ones, but I don't really play too many straight up VNs. Japan makes a shitload of VNs every year, but I find that the really great ones are the hybrids.

    I know f-all about reading or speaking Japanese, so my access would be cut pretty short.

    Colt on
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  • PataPata Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Incenjucar wrote: »

    Certainly, but the actual time required to do so is going to put it well out of the way of widely successful writers. Writing two hundred versions of the same novel isn't very efficient.

    I wouldn't exactly call it "two hundred versions of the same novel."

    Generally the structure of a VN, at least the ones I've played go like this:

    Intoduction to set up basic concept and characters > Various little choices > The result of the choices you made sets you down one branch of the story > The story finally ends based off the choices you made.

    Often the different branches can be drastically different then one another.

    It's closer to a group of stories with a single starting point.

    Pata on
    SRWWSig.pngEpisode 5: Mecha-World, Mecha-nisim, Mecha-beasts
  • InquisitorInquisitor Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I thought the thread was going to be about this kind of thing:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBRYucSePfU

    Inquisitor on
  • SurikoSuriko AustraliaRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I was wondering if KS would show up here. Check their staff page to see why.

    Oh yeah, and everyone should play it. My view is totally unbiased.

    Suriko on
  • TeaSpoonTeaSpoon Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Ever 17 looks amazing. I mean, so far as menu design goes... I don't know about the actual gameplay.

    TeaSpoon on
  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited May 2009
    Pata wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »

    Certainly, but the actual time required to do so is going to put it well out of the way of widely successful writers. Writing two hundred versions of the same novel isn't very efficient.

    I wouldn't exactly call it "two hundred versions of the same novel."

    Generally the structure of a VN, at least the ones I've played go like this:

    Intoduction to set up basic concept and characters > Various little choices > The result of the choices you made sets you down one branch of the story > The story finally ends based off the choices you made.

    Often the different branches can be drastically different then one another.

    It's closer to a group of stories with a single starting point.

    Generally speaking, they're pretty kinetic and there are only 5-6 or so actual stories. There's just often a lot of branching outward and then collapsing back to the central plot for the first third or so before they split into each real story, but even then, it's not like there are more choices or options than there are available stories, so it still is more or less just about 5 stories... just with a shared and interchangeable beginning.

    There are exceptions in both directions. The 07th games are completely kinetic with no choices whatsoever, and the T-M fandisc games are more like labrynthian nightmares than anything with a coherant plot, although since they're both pretty upfront about being about a false and fractured reality, you can't really fault them for that too much. Most of the hybrids tend to be totally kinetic until the last fifth or so when they branch into their own plot.

    ===
    Ever17 is a straight up VN. What gameplay?

    I mean, it tells a very good story rather well, even if the twist is a tad outlandishly weird. Clever, certainly, but still just a biiiiit too deus ex machina-y.

    Aroduc on
  • B:LB:L I've done worse. Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Aroduc wrote: »
    And MEH on Nitro+. I've never liked their stuff at all. They just love their altered reality as a plot device way too much.

    You can MEH all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that Phantom of Inferno rocks socks off, without any altered reality nonsense. Any fan of Noir or Madlax should check it out.

    Heck, it was even popular enough to get an anime OVA AND a TV series to boot. A really good tv series.

    B:L on
    10mvrci.png click for Anime chat
  • TeaSpoonTeaSpoon Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    What, no, sorry. Aroduct was talking about Ever 17 and then there was a video. I meant to say that the video steparu sei-blahblahblah looks awesome.

    [EDIT]Gamefaqs tells me that it's an nippon ichi/xuse game. This needs to be translated.

    TeaSpoon on
  • CantideCantide Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I think there's no reason Visual Novels can't be well written, and I've read a few that I consider excellent. I'm even running a Phalla-ish game based on one of them in CF right now. The big problem with the medium is that most of the novels have pornographic elements, and that's put a big stigma over them.

    As Aroduc said, sex sells. The market for these kind of games is Japan is incredibly competitive, and most companies need every advantage they can get. If throwing in some nudity will get them a few more sales, they literally can't afford not to.

    Cantide on
  • LanzLanz ...Za?Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Aroduc wrote: »
    And MEH on Nitro+. I've never liked their stuff at all. They just love their altered reality as a plot device way too much.

    But they gave us Punk Rock Dr. West* in Demonbane [at least in the anime]


    *Of Lovecraftian fame**
    **If even the stories that Lovecraft himself amidts he only wrote as a means of basically paying the bills can constitute "fame"

    Lanz on
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  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited May 2009
    B:L wrote: »
    Aroduc wrote: »
    And MEH on Nitro+. I've never liked their stuff at all. They just love their altered reality as a plot device way too much.

    You can MEH all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that Phantom of Inferno rocks socks off, without any altered reality nonsense. Any fan of Noir or Madlax should check it out.

    Heck, it was even popular enough to get an anime OVA AND a TV series to boot. A really good tv series.

    Pfft. If you've seen one Bee Train show about girl assassins, you've seen them all.

    Besides, they're incapable of making anything good enough to offset how godawful the OAV was. It was known to cause sterility in bull rhinoceruses.
    TeaSpoon wrote: »
    What, no, sorry. Aroduct was talking about Ever 17 and then there was a video. I meant to say that the video steparu sei-blahblahblah looks awesome.

    Seinarukana. Ported to PS2 by N-1 after its porn was cut away. Someone started (and has seemingly already stopped) Let's Playing it, but only the game portions really.
    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=9145F1BAB8AB872C

    Funnily, the team that made it jumped ship afterwards to make their own studio and make this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAtX0G_uprk

    Although the SD paper cut-out style is pretty charming in its own way. It was still about 18 times more complicated than it needed to be and the boss fights took for-fucking-ever.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUzH7c2Oy9Q

    Seinarukana's prequel is being translated (well, the quasi remake that was bundled with the PS2 version of Sei), but it's nowhere near as pretty or good IMO. Well, the overall plot is better, but the characters themselves are quite a bit weaker.
    http://dakkodango.com/?p=116

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrc62ZtH1B4

    Aroduc on
  • KamarKamar Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Ever17 is fucking amazing, btw. The way it kept feeding you bits and pieces of the mystery, and key plot details, felt a lot like the first time I watched Higurashi - completely awesome.

    Kamar on
  • CherrnCherrn Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I always wanted to see some more visual novels in the western world, even in very small quantities. I definitely think there's some potential for creating an effective audiovisual experience that isn't possible with plain text.

    I love the Phoenix Wright series, and the visual short stories in Lost Odyssey were the best parts of the game, I thought. But, I mean, the genre is just not embraced outside of Japan. There's a relatively big text adventure community, so I do find it slightly odd that there isn't a visual novel equivalent. At least, not one that I know of. I guess the porn aspect is kind of a deterrent.

    It's pretty clearly the nichest of the niche markets. Maybe with the spreading of electronic reading devices like the kindle, we'll get some professional western visual novels down the line. I'd love to read, say, Moby Dick, with accompanying ocean/ship sounds and background imagery.

    Edit: Where on earth can I find Ever17?

    Cherrn on
    All creature will die and all the things will be broken. That's the law of samurai.
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