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Kaguya

You are a pirate!

Lazy town memes have this weird tendency to fade away then come back stronger than ever after like 2 years. Dunno how to really explain it. God knows I got tired of listening to "we are number one" in recent times. I digress, though. 

This post is by no means a defense of piracy. Hear me out for a sec though.

Fuwa has been a weird place over the last few years. As I'm sure you all know, we used to be a VN-hosting website, with a bunch of pre-patched torrents that collectively pissed off the entire existing community when we started hosting them because translators didn't want their patches pre-patched so they wouldn't be associated with piracy and there was like a 1/4 chance something weird would break in the games we were pre-patching when we first started doing it (though by the time we stopped hosting them, we were actually pretty good at it.)

Aaeru, our creator, who is now a blur in the forums and you can only find via remembering exactly where she posted or via our discontinued gift bot (who has none of her involvement or her personality, but does maintan her avatar) was vehemently pro-piracy, going so far as to include a text file in every single one of our old torrents explaining how piracy was a good thing for an industry, an idea she passionately championed.  

A few years ago, we stopped hosting torrents, a decision that was probably for the best, and we got to this. What we currently have in the forums. Saying you have pirated a visual novel will lead to a slap in your wrist, and we're all more or less supposed to pretend no one pirates anything, even though everyone knows that's not the case. Like talking about being a nazi in germany, you will be strongly admonished, though without the getting arrested and loathed part. But hey, our torrents didn't enact a terrible, irrational and disgusting massacre against our fellow human beings, so I think the reaction being weaker is justified. Just a little bit. 

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There are several reasons that lead people to pirate things. One big problem is torrents. If this was back in the old days, where you had to download daemons tools, install that, figure out how to use it and, download 20 parts of zip files through your shitty wifi connection with the hosting service also being complete garbage and half of those files randomly crashing because internet and servers are a potato and you having to start their download from the beginning then figuring out how to install the patch it might be a pain, but torrents are very convenient.

It is literally easier for me to download a torrent for grisaia than it is for me to buy it right now. I will spend less time and go through less steps by downloading this torrent than I would if I tried to buy it. That is a serious problem, because I will obviously spend less money downloading a torrent for grisaia than I would if I bought it, and if I'm even slightly savvy at this, the torrent will be no less safe than buying the game. 

And that's for official releases. Fan translations are a completely different beast. No normal person will go out of their way to buy a game in japanese going through sites they don't understand or having to deal with the long ass 2 week wait and uncertain clusterfuck that is international shopping to then apply a fan patch to read a game just because they want to support the industry.

The average VN reader does not give half a fuck about the industry, and that will never change. 

You are probably a pirate. Chances are that if you are reading this, you are either a complete newcomer who hasn't even read 50 VNs or you have pirated games before. Because it's much much easier and more convenient to be one. Out of all the people this post will reach, I doubt even 5 go out of their way to buy jp games then patch them. 

And there's so many more small things that add up to it. If I want to buy VNs, I need to make accounts in like 5 different websites and input my credit card info in all of them when I could literally just go to the same torrent site and download all of them without any of the extra steps. 

 

I think the way VNs are sold needs to change somehow for them to actually get the sales they could get. No clue how, though. But until someone figures out how to do it, the vast majority of readers will continue being pirates. Because it's easier, convenient, doesn't take money and no one cares about the consequences. 

 

Kaguya

VNs are not books

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I know this may sound incredibly patronizing but bear with me for a second.

VNs are not books. 

I understand you are all well aware of it. 

So.

Why does everyone, me included, talk, review and seem to generally think of them as such?

In our modern world, this is how most the vast majority of VN screens tend to look like:

Image result for visual novel

 

A semi-transparent window with text and a few menus on the bottom, with the vast majority of the screen being taken by character sprites, backgrounds and the occasional CG. There are other ways to go about it, but this is what I'm sure is most common for everyone. 

As it's very easy to see, only a small portion of the screen is dedicated to the text at any given point. There's also music and voice acting, and overall, you're taking in a lot more information than you are with a book. 

Some might reasonably argue that a VN is still primarily a novel and as such we should first look at its writing. That may be true, but the amount of reviews I've both read and written that completely ignore the other aspects of a visual novel with the blanket statements of "music is adequate, good artwork" and moving on to extensively talk about only about the writing of the work is so big that I have to argue back "but we shouldn't ignore them either."

Aesthethic is narrative. These girls are in the same pose doing the same thing and even conveying the same emotions, but you know these are vastly different games by just looking at it, with no words needed at all

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And here's the bizarre thing, I don't think we actually ignore artwork at all. In fact, how many times have we turned away from a well-regarded VN or have seen someone turn away from one because it kinda looked like shit?

Spoilers for the latter two in the links, bu it's no accident that the top 3 VNs on VNDB are Steins Gate, Muv Luv Alternative and Baldr Skydive 2. 

It's common sense that any great work will utilize its medium to its fullest potential. There's definitely a measure of some of that in all of them, be it via unique artstyles coupled with interaction, an actual fun game with real gameplay that the VN utilizes as its backbone or even pure visual trickery being used to make a tragic scene all that much more heart-wrenching and unexpected. 

And how could we forget the king of recent releases in the western community, doki doki? Regardless of whether it's completely mediocre, total garbage or the greatest VN of all time, we all know exactly what made it such a hit.

The impact that game had on the community that enjoys it would be greatly diminished if not for very careful visual presentation. 

It's probably in part due to reviewers being people who care about writing by nature of being reviewers, but that wouldn't really explain why the pivotal visual aspect of a visual novel is so oten ignored and thrown aside.  

In my latest meme post, "to be honest, story-focused VNs mostly really suck" I say "Not like anime where you can just leave it on the background and listen to what's going on either, because autoplay won't read all the critical lines that have no voice, so you better get cozy and glue your eyes to that screen, where the game will of course (not) use the opportunities the medium provides to its fullest with interesting, unique visual effects or actually well-done music that doesn't sound like some shitty freeware stock template. " 

Now, the purpose of that post as a whole was parodying two members I loved that have been gone from the website for a long long time and to make a comment on a certain type of VN fan, but that phrase in particular is something that holds true to my thinking - VNs are significantly harder to get into than most other media. You cannot engage it passively like anime or movies, and unlike inherently interactive media like video games, you are  not particularly rewarded for engaging it actively, but you must do so as a cost of entry anyway. Good, professional visual presentation is by far the most effective and natural way to reward those who read VNs for having to pay attention for what they're doing, and that's a big reason for why these games thrive in the first place, and without it, VNs suffer as they fall into the pit of "kinda looks like shit" that the vast majority of the medium is buried over.

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It's already being done to some extent, but in my opinion, what we have is not really enough. Why are the vast majority of VN screens that boring text box under sprites and backgrounds? I sure dunno since I don't make VNs.

But I think the way for them to evolve as an art form and reach greater popularity in the west is to fully embrace being not only written, but also a visual medium. 

Now go. Hopefully some of you also have this opinion and you'll start talking about it enough that some lazy dev decides to get out of his ass and actually do something I want to see done in a VN ww

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Peace.

 

Kaguya

We've all been there. An adequate, fast-paced, tightly written scene showing off where the story will go and what they're planning for the endgame - then boom. The story breaks down immediately after it as the previous atmosphere slows down to a screeching halt as some rando monologues about his morals, introduces a girl or infodumps you the setting. Hope you enjoy 20 fucking hours of bad highschool comedy hijinks (but in space, or in a wacky city!) with some vague spooky shadowy things happening in the background. Not like it's going to be jarring to your audience if they basically have to start a completely new game after they kinda got used to your much better prologue. Not like anime where you can just leave it on the background and listen to what's going on either, because autoplay won't read all the critical lines that have no voice, so you better get cozy and glue your eyes to that screen, where the game will of course (not) use the opportunities the medium provides to its fullest with interesting, unique visual effects or actually well-done music that doesn't sound like some shitty freeware stock template. 

By the time you've gone through that slog with 5 more immersion-breaking sex scenes in the most inappropriate places possible, hopefully the last dozen of hours of your life you just wasted on the most basic, mediocre and patronizing thing a human being could possibly write, the morphine drop that is that story and your half dead brain will make you care enough about whatever is going to happen in the story that you can feel something out of it, anything other than emptiness and wondering why you're wasting your time.

But those games are so much better than pure moege, aren't they? The games that are actually intentionally slow-written with the main appeal being the slice of life and relationship with the heroines, with the H scenes feeling much more organic because the entire game is building up to them, a formula that works so well with this medium over half of the story VN writers make you read this exact same thing but with way less care put into it and making way less sense since they just copied it without knowing what it's good for and have to sell you their shitty rushed story that'll only be progressing on the background for most of the game. 

Can't really be an intellectual about moege  (or, god forbid, nukige) though. Better show off your VN dick by giving 10/10s to stuff that's just ripped off aspects of moege with poorly written action scenes and highschool philosophy lessons instead of making something that people can actually enjoy.

Suck my sweaty moe balls.

This shitpost has been copyrighted by Kaguya (™)

Kaguya

Writing prompt 16 on 50 creative non-fiction prompts.

 

"What do you want more than anything in your life? Write about the burning hot core of your desire, and how that desire has changed over your life."

 

I'll be running away pretty far from the main topic of this prompt, but bear with me for a while. 

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a toy store owner. The reason for that was pretty simple - Grade school was boring, I liked playing with my toys and I thought playing with them all day would be awesome. And I took that wish very seriously. I'd constantly try to argue with my family that I shouldn't go to school because I was going to become a toy store owner and so I wouldn't have to learn anything, an argument which was soundly defeated every day because I didn't know how to subtract stuff, kinda sucked at addiction and didn't know how to multiply yet and I was told you had to be proficient in that to own a store.

I think I was obsessed with the thought of owning a toy store for a full year, a very significant portion of my life at the time, when I dropped that and went on to my second obsession of primary school. Becoming a garbageman. And maybe this sounds a bit odd, but I'd see the big garbage truck coming down the street  and all the garbagemen running and screaming and throwing all those trash bags into the truck super fast and sometimes they'd tear apart and it'd be hilarious to baby Kaguya, and it looked like they were having the time of their lives. I wanted to be a part of that, and I spent a great many hours throwing rocks at the wall to get swolle and be able to aim the trash properly over the course of the year I got into that. Plus, garbagemen couldn't possibly need education in my mind, so skipping the rest of school seemed pretty sweet. 

Eventually I learned of the stigma of being a manual worker and, as my teen years approached, I got a group of the coolest older kids as my friends, and I wanted nothing but to impress them and be seen as a cool person. As status became important to me, I was absolutely obsessed with it for a reasonable amount of time. All the other kids my age thought the slightly older kids were cooler, so being accepted by the older kids was my goal and means of standing above my peers as one of the ultimate kids in our ecosystem. 

After that I get to the age where I actually was a young teen, and what I wanted the most was superpowers. I'd spend days on end and the vast majority of my time at school writing what superpowers I and all my friends would have, and how they'd be pretty cool but I'd be cooler than all of them, and I'd be able to beat up anyone who disagreed with me with my laser magic, inspired at the time by watching Saint Seiya and seeing how cool the gold saint of my constellation was. This was a time where I was frustrated over the lack of control in my life and wanted enough of it to be able to do whatever the hell I wanted. 

As I grew older and reached my 15 year old goth phase, I still wanted to have superpowers, but what I wanted the most was probably petty revenge on what was my first ex-girlfriend at the time, thinking she was a total dick who deserved to burn in hell. I'd listen to edgy songs, thankfully way before I really had access to the internet and I think before facebook was a thing at all, so I have no records of the embarrassing memories I'd probably like to erase from that time other than my own mind, which still makes me cringe sometimes. 

As I became a young adult a left my angst behind, what I wanted the most was money. Lots of money. Being a billionare - A wish I still hold to this day, though I changed how I look at it a lot over the years.

 

When I look at the major points of my life, I can't ever see one core desire that I always worked towards, but I can see a general desire towards leading a "good life," which I would guess every single person on the planet has. Wanting to have the most fun possible, wanting to have high social status because other people acknowledging you for real felt good, wanting to kick the ass of everyone who disagreed with me, wanting to get back at what I saw was a great wrongdoing and a backstab at me and wanting high acquisitive power to be able to go wherever I want and experience whatever I want. 

Because of my tendency towards traveling a lot and how my relationships with my family completely fell apart after I basically ran away from home to do our thankfully state-funded college, as well as never getting back in touch with them, my desires are mostly selfish. Past really wanting other people to acknowledge me as someone of high status when I was a kid, those desires don't really feature other people at all. As I played cross channel, I actually wondered how nice it would be to have a constantly resetting week with no one other than me where I could just do whatever I wanted, though nowdays I wouldn't want to be limited to the tiny city that story takes place in. 

My desires have always been hedonistic, they just changed as my perception of life and what would bring me the most pleasure changed.

Interesting writing prompt. 

 

Also I could have written a full review for FuwaReviews with the time I spent on this. Just as I could have also written a full review for FuwaReviews with the Hoshimemo shitpost. Makes me wonder. 

Kaguya

Red and Green Lotus

When I first met her, I didnt think much about the girl.

A servant. Fourteen years. One star, Earth realm. Below average training talent – that was the only thing which came to mind.

That assessment wasnt wrong but now, after a year by her side… Id like to slap myself to make up for my blindness. Indeed, If doing so a thousand times could turn back time, I’d gladly hit myself until I shed my skin, and I’d gallantly hold her in an arm and fight my way out of that tiny mansion, even if I had to go through twenty or thirty people to escape that place. There is, however, no medicine for regret…

“haaaah.”

I put my dress and look at the mirror.

…Awful sweat. Trembling hands. Long, messy hair.

I’m nervous. No… I’m scared.

I close my eyes and focus on my body, trying to gain some confidence. I can feel the gathering qi – my life energy – within my dantian, inside my body.

Fifteen years. Eight star, earth realm. One more before I’m capable of breaking through to the Sky realm. A genius for the younger generation, I’m often told. Yet right now, that assessment can only bring a bitter smile to my face. Who cares about talent? The weakest of the opponents I’m about to face could probably beat me with his eyes closed.

What I’m about to do is suicide. I have no hope of intruding in a clan meeting, taking a servant with me and escaping from the grasp of the old monsters that are gathering in those giant halls.

Hundreds of years of training. That is the difference between us. Their sect leader sits atop the peak of the Sky realm – a true expert, rumored to be able to fly in the skies. Someone able to kill me with his aura alone.

Aaaaah, so be it. It’s bizarre. Everyone in the world would think me crazy. But still – still!

Her temperament, like a blooming lotus. Her smile, more gracious than the fields of cherry blossoms from my home country.

 “...It is because of you that I have become confused, but my love for you still remains.”

That girl belongs in my side. I won’t let her waste away serving tea to some haughty clan in the middle of nowhere. The stage most suitable for her is atop this continent, not as a slave to some talentless fools, but ruling millions of kilometers alongside me.

It may be irrational or bizzare. We may both be girls, but my feelings won’t fade.

I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared. I don’t want to die.

Yet, if it’s for the sake of love…

There is a road to heaven which I cannot take. There is no door to hell, yet I must barge through.

If burning in to death in a blaze of glory against the old generation is my fate, then so be it.

Are you ready, Two Dragons Sect?  

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