making a "good visual novel"

Games based mostly on classic VN gameplay without skills, statistics, etc to raise
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Franka
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Re: making a "good visual novel"

Post by Franka » Mon Jan 26, 2015 7:16 pm

jack1974 wrote:The fun thing is that LLTQ is about the death... yet when I had sudden deaths in Vera Blanc, everyone hated that. So sometimes the same identical game mechanics has very different results :oops:
It depends on how it's presented, and if it's an integral part of the gameplay itself. LLtQ makes you hunt for deaths, so you can fill them all out, and let's not forget adorable chibis. Likewise, the deaths in Fate Stay Night are collectible and unlock fun little quips.

(New content update for LLtQ being tested right now btw, I'm a little too busy though, I think I'll wait till it's done)

canyonaz
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Re: making a "good visual novel"

Post by canyonaz » Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:01 pm

jack1974 wrote: Another idea I had (though while I had high fever...:mrgreen:) is to make a game that can be played "normally" or in "comedy" mode. I think most success of recent eroge are of course because of the sex part but also because some stuff is completely hilarious and viral. Like the "boobs bounciness" settings of Nekopara. I think such things can help a lot spread the word. I like comedy, I loved Roommates for example, or Rowinda in SOTW (and judging by comments a lot of people loved those two things too) and while I want also to make serious games, I don't mind those more "silly games".
I like this idea a lot. I really enjoy comedy games or games with comedic elements, as long as they don't go toward stupid comedy that only 12-year-old boys will laugh at. I thought Draco was a good example of this done well, as was some of Roommates. I know this is about visual novels (one of my favorite genres), but I will play games in genres I don't like very much if they have truly funny comedy. I have to imagine that people who don't like visual novels might give it a chance if it seemed funny. I like the idea of two modes, too. I have seen lots of plays performed where the actors are given free reign to re-intrepret the lines or actions to make them funnier for one performance. Those are nearly always fantastic experiences.

I second the suggestion of checking out the Choice of Games titles. They come across as having almost no budget, but they are frequently really enjoyable experiences. Making a game like that but with an actual budget for visuals and sound and things like that would be great.

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iWeasle
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Re: making a "good visual novel"

Post by iWeasle » Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:43 am

I want to say something helpful, but I can't think of anything that someone else hasn't said right now :lol: , so instead I'll third the Choice of Games suggestion, and also throw out "Rising Angels: Reborn" as another free crowdfunded pure VN that's really good.
Also: romance > plentiful choices > quality of writing/story/characters > interesting/catchy theme > artwork.

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Re: making a "good visual novel"

Post by SweetLove » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:54 am

jack1974 wrote:Trying to type while coughing every 30 seconds is not easy :mrgreen: anyway I want to answer some points:
- press/media interest is completely overrated. Really, I know what I'm talking about. I am close friends with many top indies, those who make six figures a year, and they all agreed on one thing: the press doesn't really change a game. Doesn't make a crap game a success. Hatoful boyfriend got a lot of press attention for example, but because of the bizarre game idea itself. I have countless examples of people who did everything, I won't make names since it was confidential, but in practice I know of people being in frontpage of Kotaku and seeing a 1% (yes, 1 PER CENT) increase in sales for 3-4h then stop. I had others spend over $10k in marketing to get zero results. And so on. I think is much more important a presence in the social media nowadays.
- since I started quite early (Heileen 1 was in 2008... when VNs were mostly unknown here in the west) I have already a fan base luckily. Of course not big or anything, but I have it. My main "problem" is that I want to keep releasing at least 2 titles a year. And SOTW took me most of past year and in the end results didn't match the effort. I had a lots of positive comments but also a lot of negative, all stressing one thing "I tried to play it but couldn't finish because of so many battles" and "I play your games only for the story" etc. So, it made me think that perhaps I should give a try to a VN again, even if I'm sure that a pure VN wouldn't do as well as a VN/RPG or something else.
Hm. I guess I can share your press is overrated sentiment. But my sentiment that word of mouth and branding are your best bets in terms of advertising in this market still stands. One does still need initial exposure... but seeing the negative reactions with SotW, then it really may be that you've maxed out on the new blood you can take in that way (at least on Steam and whatnot); so if you feel that VNs are your best bet, I wholeheartedly encourage you to go for it.


Now, I took a while to read through Heileen 1 and 2 and here are my sentiments:
-Heileen 1 is too short to make any lasting impact. I've mentioned length as an important quality before, and it really hurts here. I've read through the whole thing, and gone through the endings, and I just couldn't give a damn. It also attempts to build on its story and characters on its barebone word budget, and the result is mediocre. Generally, a strong thematic focus is better suited for works of these lengths. Stories generally need to give a lasting impression, whether through a sense of accomplishment, a strong thematic message, or etc. but it can't be found here.

-Heileen 2 works on the issue above and does well on it... but suffers that it is part of the same series as its predecessor. There is a huge mood whiplash between Heileen 1 and 2, and so it didn't really put me on a good footing from the beginning. Second, while the cards were interesting as a gameplay mechanic, it actually hurts it somewhat in terms of the story, as it feels rather thematically inconsistent. They have no real explanation , and they have no seeming purpose other than for the convenience of the player and to make seemingly random feats of magic happen. And at the end, when I finally arrive on the ship- I merely end up wondering so what was all that even about?

Finally, tying into the same sentiment as sbove, the game feels incomplete. There is no real standalone story here, it's merely part of one leg of a journey, and that really hurts my overall enjoyment of it, because at the end of the story, I merely feel tired and somewhat cheated of my ending. There's nothing that makes me look foward to the next part of the series either, other than for the sake of completion. Considering that visual novels aren't something produced on a regular weekly or a monthly schedule, each work not being a complete story in itself really hurts the ability of the reader to maintain continued interest in the story.

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jack1974
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Re: making a "good visual novel"

Post by jack1974 » Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:56 am

Haha yes, those VN are my early works, written by me, so not really representative of my most recent "standards" :mrgreen: (luckily)
Anyway, more than simple VNs, I meant also dating sim but breaking the current system. I still have some classic dating sim, that uses "pick the right choice" to increase relationships, maybe gift-giving. But I would like to go beyond that, since I think that system is getting a bit old. Now I don't know exactly how, maybe with a lot of choices so that you build up the dialogues almost line by line (allowing changes that could influence variables) or something else.
In summary I'd like to try something that is not as complex as a RPG, more like a dating / raising sim, but done differently. I have some ideas about interesting setups, I'll see what I come up with :)

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Re: making a "good visual novel"

Post by Troyen » Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:43 am

Would be interesting to see a VN that was different from "pick one option, watch heart meter rise by 10".

kadakithis
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Re: making a "good visual novel"

Post by kadakithis » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:20 am

Woah, that sounds intriguing. Like building skills that have to be checked to say the right thing? Or a Bioware type thing where approval is based on outside decisions that conflict with each other? I usually have no patience for the usual pure VN but ones where you have to decide everyday routines and build skills (or balance things) do make it immensely fun.

Although not a VN by any imagination, a lot of people liked Fire emblem awakening for its ability to pair different characters together over relatively short dialogue with each one, and some games have rivals where if you dont end with someone by a certain point, they end up with that person. That would be harder with different sexualities, but I guess out of 6, the straight characters would end up together, and the Bisexual characters may end up with the gay ones?

In any case, can't wait to see what you come up with, I love the cool techniques you come up with and looking forward to QoT immensely.

SweetLove
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Re: making a "good visual novel"

Post by SweetLove » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:30 pm

There is also the standard flags and branching routes system, although probably not to your tastes. But still there, and still works.

Anyway, I never really was keen on dating sims as I was on plain VNs (other than raising simulations like Princess Maker), so not much to say in that regard.

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jack1974
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Re: making a "good visual novel"

Post by jack1974 » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:09 pm

kadakithis wrote:Woah, that sounds intriguing. Like building skills that have to be checked to say the right thing? Or a Bioware type thing where approval is based on outside decisions that conflict with each other? I usually have no patience for the usual pure VN but ones where you have to decide everyday routines and build skills (or balance things) do make it immensely fun.
Yes like those system but also a system where there isn't a "right choice", but two extremes, like friendship/rivalry or something similar, so that unless you remain neutral you'll unlock either the friendship (love) or the rivalry romance CG.
The "pick right choice" is also a bit pointless because of rollback feature of Ren'Py. In some cases might be fun to pick the wrong answer on purpose, like to see what happens when you do. But apart that, it really doesn't make much sense, looks antiquate. Besides all the text written for the "wrong choices" is sometimes wasted, since I don't think when people find the right answer at first try bother to play to see the others.
Is not easy to find a replacement though, maybe the only way should be to have the romance arcs play naturally until the end and unlock scenes only based on stats, or even just change the endings based on the choices, but not that the choice themselves lead to a positive/negative outcome.

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Franka
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Re: making a "good visual novel"

Post by Franka » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:16 pm

I have a skeleton I made for a story I'm working on with 4 chapters (probably a prologue and 3 chapters actually). During the first 3 chapters, the choices you make influence an alignment gauge that has 2 extremes and neutral. In chapter 4 you choose between 3 different stories, and each of those 3 plays out differently, depending on where you end up on the alignment meter. There are good and bad endings for all 9 paths, and the completionist will want to find them all.

I will never finish it of course, I have a full time job and too many hobbies already, but I thought it was kind of neat the way it was not only a branching story, but a branching story where your early choices would decide the tone of the story and the goals of the protagonist in the final chapter (in one story you want to change the world, in the same story but another alignment you're just trying to survive, fx).

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