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Please consider taking this survey (Link) and let me know what you want to see fixed/improved upon across the various Fuwanovel sites. Your feedback will determine my work priorities this Summer/Fall. (Forum Post)

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Plk_Lesiak

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Plk_Lesiak last won the day on June 20

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About Plk_Lesiak

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    OELVN Appreciation Club
  • Birthday 05/31/1989

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    PulkownikLesiak
  • Website URL
    http://evnchronicles.blogspot.com/

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    Poland
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    Anime & VNs, writing, popcultural studies
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    134859
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    pulkowniklesiak

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  1. Winter Wolves is one of the oldest continuously active OELVN studios, which since the mid-2000s became fairly well-known for their straight-up VNs and dating sims, such as Roommates, as well as for fairly unique RPG-VN hybrids. Among the latter, probably the best known is Loren the Amazon Princess. Published in 2012, it kickstarted a whole series of games set in the fantasy world of Aravorn (including even a BL title Heirs and Graces) and gathered mostly positive reactions from the Western VN community. It’s also, to this day, the studio’s best-selling title on Steam, with around 80k owners on the platform. Loren… also features a very rarely seen main premise – the player does not take the role of the titular heroine, but of a slave servant, whose role is to assist the Amazon princess in her quest to find her missing mother (and, of course, eventually save the world from a great and unexpected threat). This, along with the very explicit focus on romance, creates a pretty unique mixture, somewhat detached from both the typical RPG power fantasy and even most common fantasy VN tropes. Does it have any merits apart from being slightly different though? The main cast might be impressing with its scale and variety, but leaves some characters underdeveloped and redundant within the RPG portion of the game One of the first things that Loren… does unusually well is the protagonist gender choice – the game lets you play either as a male or a female character but doesn’t make it merely a cosmetic difference. Both the female (Elenor) and male (Saren) protagonist are actual characters, with their own backstories, personalities and different racial backgrounds (Saren is a human, while Elenor is an elf). This has a significant impact on how they’re perceived by various factions and characters, along with romance options available to them (even if there’s an abundance of bisexual love interests that might be interested in both of them). This, while very limiting in case of customisation (also for story reasons, you can only choose between warrior and thief classes), not only makes the game more immersive, but also rewards multiple playthroughs with unique interactions and story developments. The story itself, while it might rely on typical fantasy clichés quite a lot, is rather epic in scale and delivers impressive amounts of VN content, with fairly simple and quick turn-based RPG battles added on top of that. While at the beginning you’re controlling a party of two, consisting just of Loren and the protagonist, you quickly meet new characters and at the end of the second act can gather 12 companions, 9 of them (!) available as romance options. All those characters have their unique stories, which you both learn throughout the main plot and through talking to them in camp, between missions. With this party, you will go through 4 chapters of the game, with constantly rising stakes and abundance of dialogue to read through, while the RPG elements are kept strongly connected with the plot and mostly devoid of unreasonable grind. Also, after finishing the game once, you unlock the option to skip the combat, so you can focus on exploring other paths and choices within the story. The clunky feel of the UI and the RPG game mechanics is the game’s biggest flaw, but thankfully they’re not broken or grindy enough to disqualify it completely One of the game’s biggest focuses and selling point is romance and while it’s easy to see that the dev team took this aspect very seriously, the quantity pretty much won over the quality. It’s not that the character’s available as love interests are unappealing or completely lack depth, but the huge number of them simply made it impossible for Winter Wolves to give all major enough roles in the story and the right amount of meaningful interactions. This means that apart from the characters that are absolutely crucial to the main plot, like Loren herself and her mother Karen, the Queen of Amazons, the romance feels slightly tacked-on and underdeveloped. On the other hand, the variety of options is thorough enough that pretty much everyone should find something (or a few things) to their liking, with heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual characters of both genders, different races and allegiances to choose from. Also, the writing, while not perfect, is usually good enough to communicate clearly the unique traits of every member of the cast and make the rare, intimate moments between them and the protagonist appealing. Sounds pretty good so far? Sadly, the rest of the game deserves much less praise and that goes especially to the UI and the RPG battle segments. While the minimalistic battle system, with the very basic graphical interface, is something that mostly needs some adjusting on the part of the player (especially if you’re used to more advanced RPGs), there are some hardly justifiable problems with the core mechanics and implementation of gameplay. Horribly unbalanced classes, with mages having overwhelming firepower and thieves barely having a viable role on the battlefield are combined with very limited skill customization, redundant specializations between some characters and a weak sense of progression. Lack of interesting loot, unbalanced items available in stores and weird omissions in obtainable gear (such as lack of cloth belts in the game – mages have no items available to put in that slot whatsoever!) are somewhat hard to understand, especially when devs had multiple occasions to fix these problems, either through patches or with the Castle of N’Mar DLC. The general structure of game’s UI is similarly problematic, with malfunctioning autoplay, unintuitive implementation of some crucial functions (like the mouse wheel having the ability to rewind not just dialogue, but many other actions in the game, often leading to random cancellations of shop transaction or gear changes. If the role of combat in the game was more prominent, this could as well be a disqualifying issue – while it's not completely devoid of fun, it always falls short of that really satisfying status that could carry a less story-focused title. The slightly unusual artstyle might not be to everyone’s liking, but the low resolution of the art assets is the real problem, taking much appeal from the game’s visuals when played on a modern, full-HD screen Something that is also hard not to complain about is the visual quality of the game. It has a pretty distinct, partially non-anime artstyle and while I wouldn’t consider it especially pretty, it seems to appeal to many people and is definitely not bad enough to be counted as an objective flaw. The low resolution of most art assets is however quite painfully apparent on a modern HD screen. The sprites and backgrounds, and especially the UI elements and graphics used during combat simply do not look appropriate for a game released in the current decade. This is not completely unseen in indie titles like this, but might be heavily off-putting for those that expect high aesthetic values from their VNs. I should also mention that CGs, of similar quality as all other art in the game, are very few and far between, mostly showing at the conclusion of the romance routes. There's apparently some 18+ possible to unlock through a patch, but I was at no point tempted to look for it. The music consists of typical ambient tunes and while I didn’t have any issues with its tone of quality, it was also rather prone to bugging out, especially when rolling back dialogue. In the end, for me Loren the Amazon Princess was quite an interesting and satisfying game. It is, however, one that will only appeal to more patient and RPG-tolerant readers. Apart from the intriguing dynamic of the protagonist being a slave, earning his place as the worthy companion for the actual heroine of the story, and the fun romance subplots, it offers a very standard fantasy world and a rather predictable intrigue. It also, at least partially, falls flat as an RPG game, without the depth and polish necessary to become a really enjoyable experience in this aspect. If you think you might enjoy its story and romance elements, I still recommend it though – especially if you’re able to grab it on sale, as it still sits at a fairly high price of $20. Final Score: 3/5 Pros: + Interesting premise (the protagonist is not the main hero) + Huge, varied cast of characters + Impressive number and variety of romance options Cons: - Disappointing quality of art assets - Poorly designed UI - Unbalanced classes and poor customisation in the RPG portion of the game VNDB page Buy Loren the Amazon Princess on Steam
  2. Why are so many Vampire protagonists self-hating?

    Just a quick question - is it like throughout the whole thing, or just briefly after the protag is turned? This may affect my desition whether to buy it after they finish fixing the translation. ;]
  3. Steam Summer Sale 2K18

    For those looking for discounts, there's a Reddit post trying to pinpoint all the JP VN ones, I'm making the list of best (discounted by 40% or more) EVN ones in the comments. Steam seems dead ATM, so I've stopped adding new ones temporally. ;p And, when it goes back alive, I'm definitely grabbing Dies Irae (first time I see it actually discounted), Harmonia and a few small ones.
  4. Yeah, I also think that cleaning up the main site is crucial and the first step before we might start with some far-reaching initiatives @sanahtlig talked about. Removing permanently-dead segments and fixing what can be fixed in relatively short time. Maybe getting that "beta" sign out of there.
  5. Cringe, Cooking and flimsy filming with Asonn.

    You see, Tay came back only a few hours ago and people already get creative out here.
  6. Wow, what a weird feeling seeing Tay on the Forums and possibility of changes on the site. It's, like, after 8 months of banging my head against a wall I suddenly see a ray of light from the other side and wonder whether it's for real or it's just my severely damaged brain deceiving me.

    And I might be overdramatizing, but it's hard to describe how happy this made me. I've put so much work and heart into my activities on Fuwa, seeing some kind of break from the stagnation I got used to gives all of it that much more meaning. And apologies to @Decay, @Kaguya for being a bit of a dickhead in my latest posts, I've just got used to any kind of initiative around here being ultimately futile and my cynicism was just oozing from that FuwaReviews thread. :amane:

  7. Wow, that's something I'm happy to see. Already sent my self-interest-driven feedback your way.
  8. Why are so many Vampire protagonists self-hating?

    I guess the trope is just as well and alive in the Western media, but I wonder if it doesn't still have a bit to do with Japanese culture - there praying on others and being an outcast from the society, who can't live by the same rules as everyone else could be a slightly bigger deal than it would be from American/European perspective. Plus, concealing your true identity and knowing that everyone else considers you an abomination is not a minor thing - some people could accept it without much of a problem (ex. sociopaths such as me ), for others it would be a constant torture. It also depends whether there's some kind of Vampire community they can rely on or if they're, as you've mentioned, feeling isolated and vulnerable. You wrote once that it's also very rare for a VN protagonist to become a non-human on his own volition... But now that I think about it, it's also a thing in Western media? Trying to transcend humanity is usually the villain's path, while the hero clings to it with everything they have. Still, I find the dedication to "normalcy" as an automatically positive value very Japanese. The "violent urges" part is more important than you made it seem though, in most mythos vampire's thirst is something that has to be always kept in check and can turn you into a mindless beast if not taken care of properly. A Vampire in this sense is akin to a drug addict, who constantly struggles to keep any semblance of normalcy and stability in his life and know that failing will probably cost him his life. Plus, depending on the setting, there might be a danger of even losing your human form and the ability to mingle with the human society. But TBH, I've seen very few depictions of vampires where becoming one didn't seem like a pretty good deal from my perspective. Not sure what this says about me.
  9. Fuwanovel Confessions

    I'm doing it the wrong way, apparently. Like most things.
  10. I think I will have to make a separate section for small developers, even Lupiesoft, which got quite a lot of attention with Mutiny!!, is still a studio with one niche game in their catalogue. I guess Lupiesoft have a bit too much of an actual following to go to that segment, but I will still need it for the list to be easily usable. :>
  11. Well, a publisher/developer profile is something a company have to make themselves, they're not automatically created, so I can only include those that already made the move (for this reason, I would ask for any recommendations to come with an appropriate link ).
  12. The Steam Creator feature is quite a neat thing and I think it can be used to promote quality VNs and good brands on Steam, which are now always at risk of drowning in the sea of crap that gets published on the platform on a daily basis. The devs and publishers are really jumping in to make use of the new tools, so I thought it could be a good idea to already start working on a comprehensive list of creators that are worth following from a VN fan's perspective. When I think it's comprehensive enough, I will publish it on the blog, but for now I will appreciate all the feedback on the format, descriptions I use or the profiles I might've missed. I've only started going through the profiles and I know new creator pages will be popping up every day in the coming weeks, so this will be a prolonged process. For the descriptions, I include only titles available on Steam in them and state some pretty obvious facts, but I would like this to be somewhat useful even for people that know relatively little about VNs and want to find good sources of those on Steam. --------------------------------------------------- EVN developer and publisher profiles Sekai Project (localization and publishing company, mostly focused on visual novels; World End Economica, Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius). Ebi-hime (critically-acclaimed Western VN creator, most well-known for her yuri and horror titles; Sweetest Monster, Asphyxia). Christine Love (writer and EVN creator, one of the earliest starts of the Western VN development scene; Analogue: A Hate Story, Ladykiller in a Bind). Hanako Games (EVN publisher and developer specialized in yuri and otome games; A Little Lily Princess, Long Live the Queen). WinterWolves (Western developer creating RPGs with visual novel-style storytelling, dating sims and romance VNs; Loren the Amazon Princess, Roommates). Razzart Visual (EVN developer most well-known for her yuri titles; Love Ribbon, Starlight Vega). Lupiesoft (EVN development team best known for creating futa eroge; The Menagerie, Mutiny!!). Other VN-related profiles MangaGamer (the biggest VN localization company in the West; Sorcery Jokers, Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome). VisualArts/Key (one of the oldest and most respected VN developers, now localizing and publishing their own games in-house; Little Busters, Planetarian). Frontwing USA (Western publishing arm of Frontwing, a major JP VN developer; Wonderful Everyday Down the Rabbit-Hole, Grisaia series). JAST USA (the oldest VN/dating sim localization company in the West; Eiyuu Senki, Flowers). Spike Chuunsoft (Japanese developer and publisher; Steins;Gate, Danganronpa). Degica Games (Japanese game publisher, occasionally delving into the VN niche; Symphonic Rain, Love Nurse Addiction). Idea Factory (Japanese developer and publisher, most known for the Hyperdimension Neptunia games, but also for popular otome VNs; Amnesia: Memories, Hakuoki). Fruitbat Factory (localization company focused on doujin Japanese games, including VNs; Seabed, Chuusotsu! 1st Graduation). Sol Press (Japanese media localization company that recently expanded into the VN market; Sakura Sakura, Newton and the Apple Tree). Alice in Dissonance (Japanese doujin circle; Fault series, Mhakna Gramura and Fairy Bell). NEKO WORKs (Japanese developer, creators of the Nekopara series; Nekopara, Tropical Liquor). SakuraGame (Chinese publisher infamous for their low-quality, machine-translated English releases; Tricolour Lovestory; Fortissimo FA). Small developers and publishers Zetsubou Games (writer and developer involved in many well-known EVN projects; Sable's Grimoire, Sickness). Culture Select (doujin game localization company; Dead End Junction, One Small Fire at a Time). Sukeban Games (Venezuelan development studio, authors of VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action). Top Hat Studios (small EVN developer and publisher; Episicava, The Wilting Amaranth). Afterthought Studio (small EVN developer and publisher; Forgotten, Not Lost; The Merchant Memoirs). DigitalEZ (small publishing company best known for Western releases of Chinese VNs - sadly, with inconsistent translation quality; Notch - The Innocent LunA, Oblivious Garden). Sierra Lee Games (EVN developer, author of the yandere horror title Crimson Gray). Träumendes Mädchen (EVN developer; Ambre, Garden of Oblivion). Goldbar Games (EVN developer team, authors of the freeware title Detective Butler: Maiden Voyage Murder). Mikołaj Spychał (VN developer from Poland, author of Jake's Love Story).
  13. Fuwanovel Confessions

    Same here... :s
  14. Thank you for your answer, this whole thread cleared quite a few things to me - and well, probably gave me a way to approach the topic without making problems for anyone. :]
  15. Thank you for this info! @Nayleen, I guess this is still doable? I will have some reviews up with a separate tag soon, should I contact you through PM when I think it's ready or actually try to reach Tay and hope for a miracle? ;p
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