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  1. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Litrpg: Everybody Loves Large Chests   
    Everybody Loves Large Chests (the series) by Neven Iliev is probably the most horrifying dark comedy fantasy I've ever read.  I laughed almost constantly throughout the first five books (what I've read) of this series... simply because it is just so far out there that it insulates you from the sheer horror of what is going on.
    This series is focused on the antics and life of an aberrant, sociopathic, homicidal and ever-hungry mimic (yes, the treasure-chest monster) named Boxxy T Morningwood (yes, that's its name, lol).  It begins with the nearly brainless creature devouring a hapless adventure... and gaining a few levels and some intelligence in short order.
    I say intelligence, but Boxxy is pretty much an idiot savant with a gift for homicidal mayhem, torture, and somehow always making out better than it should have been able to.  While Boxxy begins passively killing and eating 'tasty' adventurers and collecting 'shinies' in a dungeon, it quickly progresses to... doing the exact same thing (with added flair) outside the dungeon (well, with 'tasty' extending to just about everything along the way).  This ever-hungry idiot savant is somehow one of the single most hilarious protagonists I've encountered... anywhere.  Some of the things he gets up to (actually, most of them) are straight out of a Clock Up VN, and he only gets more horrifyingly evil as time goes on.  
    Even though he does get more intelligent as he levels and evolves, his central interests forever focus on 'shiny' and 'tasty'.
    Let's be clear, if I didn't make it so above... Boxxy is evil.  There is no redeeming value to him, despite what you might think of him at times.  He likes eating things, collecting shiny things, and killing to level up.  However, he proves that evil can be hilarious, if you know what you are doing.
  2. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to bakauchuujin for a blog entry, Picture of all my physical visual novels   
    Here are pictures of all of my physical visual novels.
    Some of these I have already done a review of while the others are planned to at some point get a review once I have read them.
    There are also going to be more visual novels added here in the future. For instance have I backed physical tier of kickstarter for Island, Momoiro Closet and Newrin as well as having pre ordered the complete box for Grisaia.
    Some of my english visual novels

    More of my english visual novels

    Grisaia complete box


    Nekopara vol 4 and Sengoku Rance

    My english visual novels with nsfw cover
    English Console VNs

    Japanese visual novels for PC

    More japanese visual novels for PC

    Some more japanese physicals, some of them have NSFW box
    My japanese visual novels for PS Vita

    My japanese visual novels for PS3 and PS4

  3. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Thoughts on Tokyo Babel (a summary after my fifth playthrough)   
    First, as I state in the title, I'm coming off my fifth playthrough (all paths and endings) of Tokyo Babel.  As such, I am - very obviously - deeply fond of the game.  I'm also a fan of the writer Higashide Yuuichirou (for reference, he also wrote Ayakashibito and the scenario for Fate/Apocrypha). 
    However, in this post I wanted to address some of the complaints I get from those who play the game.  First, I will address the major complaints I've taken personally from those who read or have read it untranslated, then those who read it translated.
    1.  'This doesn't feel like a Higashide game/isn't as good as his other games!'  For better or worse, Higashide went in a different direction, style, and approach in Tokyo Babel in comparison to his previous works.  Ayakashibito is the basis for most untranslated Higashide fanboys' love, but it needs to be said that anyone who has played the two games will barely see any resemblance beyond the writing style. 
    Ayakashibito was about a young man struggling against the world as he tried to carve out a life for himself with his adoptive sister.  His emotional struggles with unreasonable and unreasoning prejudice, as well as the active malice of powers both great and small, struck a chord in a lot of the people who read it.  Moreover, it is by far the most slice-of-life focused of all Higashide's titles, whereas a huge portion of Tokyo Babel is fighting, preparation for fighting, and dealing with conspiracies.
    2.  'I loved Dies Irae and this was recommended to me based on that, but it doesn't match up.'  This one makes me laugh.  Sorry, I'm not trying to be contemptuous, but, despite some surface resemblances, Tokyo Babel is wildly different from Dies Irae.  Higashide is not a poet.  Masada is.  Higashide is calculating where Masada is impulsive.  As such, I can honestly say the only resemblance between the two is that they both have a preference for fantasy and melodrama.  Dies Irae is an opera, whereas Tokyo Babel is more straightforward and to the point, in comparison.
    3.  'Why is there no ero?  All his other games had ero, so why not this one?'  I have to wonder if anyone but me was surprised at this one being the third most common complaint I got from those I recommended this game to.  Yes, his other games have a mix of good and horrid ero (Ayakashibito is particularly infamous for its side-character scenes), but Tokyo Babel was written from beginning to end as an all-ages novel.  Surprisingly, I agree with those who think the lack of ero in Tokyo Babel had a negative effect.  To be blunt, I can't see Lilith not finding a way to shove Setsuna into Raziel's futon or failing to trap him in a room alone with Sorami... and that's setting aside several moments in her path that would have made for some great 'desperate and somber H' scenes.  Higashide, for all that his ero scenes were sometimes awful (again, Ayakashibito), always made them relevant to the story and used them to enhance its flow... something many chuuni writers who utilize ero content fail to do.
    4. 'What the heck is it with this game's weird mix of styles?!'  I'm not an art bigot, so I'm not the best person to answer this question.  This game's art style differs from previous Propeller games to a significant degree at times.  Is that a good or bad thing?  Hard to answer... though I do think the decision to make the main characters look younger than in previous games (with some exceptions) was questionable, lol.
    1.  'What is with the translation?!!!!'.  Aah... this is the idiot argument.  Sorry, but I've said this a thousand times before 'Japanese to English translation is an oxymoron'.  Conjueror was pretty much the only translator brave enough to jump into translating something like Dies Irae or Tokyo Babel precisely because fans of this type of game are such a-holes when it comes to translations.  Yes, it isn't perfect.  Yes, it doesn't somehow magically mirror Higashide's brilliance perfectly.  However, I would like to make a few major points for those who insist they could do better...
    Japanese has numerous concepts, sayings, and even casual phrasing that simply don't translate into English without a much larger number of words to fill in the gaps in the language.  One reason I always recommend anyone who can read a game in Japanese (even if they have to use a parser and text hooker) do so is because it is impossible to perfectly replicate everything in a localization to English.  It is possible to get across many concepts with creative language and a wide vocabulary in English, but that sometimes means spending minutes or even an hour on a single line, trying to create something that can somehow retain the best parts of the original.  Chuuni translations tend to be awkward (both anime and games) because the language used requires more of this, and it becomes too easy to fall into the habit of robotically spewing out the translation instead of actually writing it into prose (look at the FGO cell phone game and you'll see what I mean).
    2.  'This wasn't as dramatic as I thought it would be!'  This one puzzles me... but then, I never played the game all the way through in English (I went up through the Miyako fight in Raziel's route to get an idea of what it was like), so maybe more was lost in the localization toward the middle and end than I thought. 
    3.  'The subject matter made me uncomfortable'...  Ah yes, this one.  To be honest, even I felt the remnants of my upbringing pounding on the doors of my psyche at times when I played this game.  To be blunt, to anyone brought up in a devout Christian (or even Muslim) household, playing any of the routes can be enormously uncomfortable at times.  By the nature of the process of 'suspending disbelief' that occurs when you read something fantasy, your prejudices and upbringing inevitably play into how you see the game.  To be blunt, by Christian standards, this game is blasphemous, lol.  In Japan, due to the way the divine is seen (impossible to explain if you haven't studied it, so I won't go into this here), this game doesn't feel that way.  However, this game can cause some odd reactions in some Westerners.
    4.  'I don't get the humor.'  Sad to say, but a good portion of humor in Japanese VNs simply doesn't translate very well.  The funniest scene in the game (in my opinion) is the drunken party in Sorami's path... but there are several points in this scene that don't translate (think plays on Japanese wording, puns, and phone number styles) that had me cracking up every time.  Sad to say, but, for those playing translated JVNs, this is something you'll just have to live with.
    I didn't really refute any of the complaints here... but I did try to address them.  Tokyo Babel is one of the few of my favorite games that have been translated (though more of them have been in recent years, including Hapymaher and Dies Irae), but it is also the one of my translated favorites that is most likely not to be mentioned when someone is asking about this type of game. 
  4. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Reflecting on my Otaku Origins   
    I took my first steps onto the road of the otaku in 1992, when I watched the poorly dubbed (all dubs were godawful back then) Record of Lodoss War Volume 1 OVA VCR tape.  Now, I was already a heavy fantasy addict, having been introduced to the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance in 1990, and my obsession was at its peak at the time.  When I watched Record of Lodoss War, I saw the typical 'elven maiden with human hero' romance in a new way (incidentally, this is a pretty typical romantic theme in those days, less so nowadays).  I also saw oddities that stood out as odd to me precisely because of the oddly black and white point of view enforced on one by the various D&D universes.  
    Of course, I was a chuunibyou brat by that time, already, so it should surprise no one that I got obsessed.  It got ten times worse, however, when I encountered Chrono Trigger as it was played on my cousin's SNES.  Chrono Trigger is still, to this day, one of the single best rpgs ever made.  Looking back, considering all that has been done since then, it is almost TERRIFYING that someone was able to do what was done with Chrono Trigger with the limitations placed by using the SNES system.  The story, the world, and the various layers of time were put together into such a subtly complex experience that, to this day, I've yet to see any other rpg manage it.  Chrono Cross would manage to imitate some elements of this with its parallel world jumping, but Chrono Trigger's jumping around in time gave you impetus to explore how every aspect of the world could change based on how and when you did certain things.  Rumors constantly abounded that there were secret endings (such as the infamous 'vampire Chrono' or 'Save Schala' fake rumors, which some believe led to the way the Chrono Cross storyline was handled), and people - such as me - would play the game repeatedly, using all the meager saves allowed by the cartridge limitations of the time, in hopes that they might trigger those endings or find a way to discover something new.  
    In all honesty, Chrono Trigger being the game that got me into jrpgs probably ruined me for life.  It set my standards to a ridiculously high level on a subconscious plane, resulting in me comparing every single jrpg experience since then to it.  Aesthetically, musically, and structurally, it was a true jrpg kamige.  It was also the game that turned jrpgs into my second otaku obsession.
    During the SNES-PS2 eras, I literally bought and played EVERY jrpg that came out.  I still own them, in fact.  I played most of the PS1 and SNES era games multiple times.
    However, it was also in the PS2 era (often called the 'dawn of the mainstream jrpg') that jrpg quality began to fall off drastically.  The kind of genius and artistic flair using minimal resources you saw in previous eras was lost entirely within a few years of the release of FFX (FFX being a good game that also turned VO from a curiosity to a mainstream 'thing').  Musical direction, a role differing from composition, where someone was assigned to decide the timing of using a musical score and which ones fit which dungeons, which story scenes, disappeared in the middle of the PS2 era, as VO was used to fill the gaps of emotionality.  However, this also meant that the subtlety of previous eras was lost with a swiftness that left me bewildered at the time.  
    By the time the PS3 era came around, jrpgs were slowing down, due to what I now call 'flashy kusoge fatigue'.  Oh, a few sub-genres, such as the Atelier series' alchemy obsessed SOL titles and the more action-based titles continued to be prolific, but what were called 'console-style rpgs' started to vanish.  MMO elements were introduced into normal jrpgs, making progression and gameplay less interesting as a result (mostly because it seemed to have been done primarily to draw the WoW crowds into solo rpgs).  Storytelling was dying a surprisingly swift death, as tedious gameplay elements (for loot and level-obsessed completionists) began to devour higher and higher proportions of each game's overall playtime.  
    There is a very good reason why people go back and play so-called 'retro' jrpgs so much.  There simply aren't that many more recent jrpgs that have that kind of flair and subtle genius.  I know for a fact that one of the best ways to get people addicted to jrpgs is still just to let them play Chrono Trigger.  
    Ironically, it was VNs that saved my soul.  This was back in 2008, four years before I joined Fuwa.  I was introduced to Tsukihime by a fellow anime fansubber, and, for the first time in over three years, I had something interesting enough (story-wise) that I was given a perspective on the nature of my growing irritation and fatigue with jrpgs in general.  At the time, the JVN industry was still as vital and full of genius as the jrpg industry was in the PS1 era.  Tsukihime and a few other major classics put out near the turn of the century had created the potential for a market of story-focused VNs that had allowed more and more creative people to get into the medium.  Masada was releasing his latest version of Dies Irae, and there were literally hundreds of potentially interesting VNs for me to try.
    Needless to say, I lost my mind almost as badly as when I first played Chrono Trigger.  I must have blown four grand of my meager savings on VNs within the first year, and I didn't regret a penny of it.  Yes, roughly two-thirds of what I bought was pure crap.  However, the gems I discovered gave me a taste of the potential of the medium in a way that was horribly addictive.  Moreover, after a few years of being starved of any decent new stories, even the worst VNs had something that I could find I liked about them.  
    In retrospect, I have an addictive personality.  I get addicted to things easily, especially when they scratch my story bug.  People have said to me, when it came to my jrpg obsession 'if you want a good story, why don't you read a book?', to which I usually gave them a blank stare and said 'I'm already reading good books.  I just want stories in my games too.'  
    Interestingly enough, there were a few bursts of true creativity in jrpgs in the years since, like Tales of Berseria and Nier: Automata, but they partially stand out due to the sheer bleakness of the genre landscape.  People praise Octopath Traveler and Dragon Quest XI with intensity, and they practically worship Bravely Default.  However, I have been shocked at how low-quality the presentation of these stories has been.  It's like an entire generation has gotten used to ineptness in presentation to the point where they can be charmed by backhanded efforts at retro-nostalgia.  Octopath has all the grind of the old SaGa Frontier games with none of the charm, the best part of each of the paths being at the beginning.  Dragon Quest XI retains the horribly grindy nature of Dragon Quest games without improving on the formula in any real way.  Moreover, locking so much content into the post-game annoys the hell out of me (I prefer new game +, obviously).  
    JVNs have suffered their own decline, which is ironically due to the same demographics that inflated the medium in the first place (the dominance of the moe/charage lovers).  VNs were always destined to be a niche medium, but the over-specialization of the industry has led to an inability to adapt to changing spending habits and demographics.  Even if they wanted to regear for a new generation of consumers, most companies no longer have the access to the necessary talent to do so.
    I'm fairly sure that jrpgs suffer from a similar lack.  Yes, there are some excellent composers and graphic designers in the jrpg industry, as well as access to the solid voice-acting industry of Japan and the growing one here in the US.  However, there is a severe lack of writers capable of bringing a story to life, and there is no point in a top-tier OST that has no one to properly coordinate its use.  The very fact that something like Undertale could bury so much of the commercial rpg industry, in the eyes of rpg fans, says everything about how far the industry has fallen.
    So what am I getting at?  Not really anything, in truth.  I just needed to blow off some steam.  Thank you for reading.
  5. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random translation: Silverio Vendetta's opening scene   
    This scene is the opening of Silverio Vendetta, and the two monologues (one from Zephyr, one from a spoiler character who isn't named in the scene) define the nature of the game's theme.
    What is victory?
    What is glory?
    I choose that path, will I be able to live without losing anything?
    Can I save what is mine?  Can I protect it?  Can I really find happiness?
    I ask this earnestly.  For victory is by nature frightening to me.  I know the poisoned fangs hidden within its glorious light better than anyone.
    Honors that leave capability in the dust, more money than one can spend, success that can't help but be noticed...  Those things can't help but cause the holder suffering the moment they overdose upon them.
    In other words, it is a reaction.
    Amongst the more obvious would be jealousy from the defeated, the price of fame, the public's view differing from reality, and unfounded rumors and expectations.  The more extreme end can even go to death threats, worship, blackmail, etc...
    Whether it is malice or berserk good will, they are both terrifying.
    At times, that even becomes a suffering far more terrible than simple defeat, and it can even become the cause of utter ruin.
    It is the same as losing your family as the cost for succeeding in business.  It's counterproductive.
    It is an absolute truth that there are times when it is best to consider allowing defeat or showing humility. 
    Of course, I'm not saying 'don't win'.  Anyone who says that is a total idiot and is blind to reality.
    Humans... no all living things regardless of origin seek a victorious result.  That way of being is perfectly natural and a matter of course.  It is truly rare that victory is unadulterated.  In the first place, if you are always on the losing side, it is hard to even live, and the world isn't so kind as to infinitely forgive the defeated. 
    That's why the ideal is to seek victories one is capable of handling and defeats one is capable of accepting.  I can't help but believe that the key to living a full life is acting while keeping an eye on that thin line. 
    'Rather than suffering a terrible defeat as the result of pursuing a great dream, it is much smarter and less painful to avoid challenging your limits and be satisfied with minor victories and losses...'
    That's the nauseating thought process of the weak, but there are a lot of people out there who talk this way... and I am one of them.
    卑小? 凡人? そうだな、指摘されてもその通り。自分自身でよく分かっているよ。予め負けた時のために予防線を張っているだけだろうと誹られても、まったく、ぐうの音も出ない
    Pathetic?  Mediocre?  Yes, what you are saying is correct.  I know that very well.  Even if you say I'm just making excuses for the time I lose in advance, I can't refute you. 
    That's right, I'm a pathetic man.
    Whether as a person or a man, I am only capable of so much.
    I live without any real ideals or convictions, an opportunist who is quite satisfied as long as he can make enough money to live day by day.
    I'm passive as well as pessimistic.  To sum me up in a single word... pathetic.
    Still, if you'll let me make one excuse, I would like to report on the life I lived until I came to this realization.
    I didn't end up this way because I kept losing but rather because of an unwanted set of victories.
    That's right... nothing good comes of winning.
    Without fail, the next, much larger tribulation follows it up.
    That might seem like some kind of joke... but it was an absolute truth for me.
    Really, oh really... every time, always, always always...
    Whether an enemy, a mission, a difficult question, or a competition, achieving victory fails to improve the situation.  Moreover, I found myself facing similar situations at escalating levels of difficulty.  Seriously, what's with that?
    The moment I won by running myself ragged, an even worse problem would always, without exception, pop up before me.
    The moment I came out victorious, puking blood, another great enemy would appear before me.
    It was almost as if the contents of fate's treasure box were scattered before me.  Problems, enemies, and every tribulation you could possibly imagine welling forth endlessly... the duty a victor must bear.
    Is the world saying that, since I won, since I achieved glory that proceeding to the next stage is a matter of course, and I have to throw myself into a more fitting conflict?
    それが勝者の宿命だから? ふざけろよ、こんな馬鹿げた話があるか
    Because that is the duty of a victor?  Screw that!  Can there be anything more idiotic than this?!
    Everyone seeks victory and glory to make their present better, but for some reason, in my case, that just strangles me.  You can't call that anything other than absurdity.
    And of course, since I'm just a normal person, I lose as well.  No, it was actually more common for me to be crawling the earth, helpless.
    There was a time when, because I didn't like that, I took the unfamiliar path of working hard.
    However, if I won, I was doomed to face the next tribulation.  It was a hellish existence I was incapable of escaping.  I felt like I was going to go mad.
    Placed into that kind of situation, the human heart isn't so strong as to be able to maintain an indomitable will.
    And so, I decided I had enough, exhausted.
    I chose to live going with the flow.
    Though I hated it, I even accepted the fact that I was worthless trash.
    Yest still, I found a girl I had to protect.
    I vowed to use this pathetic life to save her.  For that reason, I forced myself to stand and go forth once again.
    It was a once in a lifetime, final gamble... and for some reason I won...
    And I achieved yet another terrible victory.
    I foolishly failed to realize that that was doomed to transform into a one-way trip to hell...
    (at this point, it changes narrators from Zephyr to another)
    The grim reaper is called forth.  Trials and tribulations beyond my ability to handle arrive.
    Protecting her to the end is absolutely impossible.  He will never become a true victor.
    What comes is another enemy, another misfortune, another tribulation, another ruin.
    The future he thought he'd reached continues to move forward, eaten away by darkness.
    Rather, the miracle he managed to create becomes fuel for another challenge, turning the wheels of fate.
    That is the nature of a 'counterattack'.
    As it is a concept that exists through the weak destroying the strong, if the glory of victory is achieved, the right to use it is lost.
    ... He is an eternal loser, the cursed silver werewolf.
    The gaunt evil beast who crushes all enemies in its great jaws while howling its despair from the depths of defeat.
    He continues to struggle, even though he knows that the next hunter will be even more terrible than the last, unable to escape his destiny.
    It is impossible to escape from victory.
    It is impossible to escape from victory.
    It is impossible to escape from victory.
    ... now, what will you do?
  6. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, The problem with reviews and reviewers   
    Anyone who has read one of my reviews knows I'm something of a cynic and a pessimist.  I try to think the best about every VN I go into, but my first impulse is to see what is wrong, rather than what is right. 
    Whether it is optimism and rose-colored glasses or pessimism and cynicism, and excess of either is often a negative influence on the quality of a review.  Generally speaking, I usually make an effort to find something I like about a VN's concept before going in, then I start the VN trying to enjoy it as an outgrowth of that.  By the end, this usually results in me having experienced both the negative and positive aspects of the VN... the problem is, when reviewing, it is all too easy to forget what is good about the VN.
    As a result, when I'm writing up a review, the first thing I do is write up a list of the good points I found, ignoring the mitigating negative factors.  I then build the review around these and include the negative points in with the rest... but you can probably tell that being positive just doesn't come naturally to me, since I tend to be pretty harsh.
    However, by using this system, I've found dozens of VN gems over the years that I probably would have discarded for perceived negative qualities if I didn't use this process.  Indeed, early on in my reading of untranslated VNs, I dropped numerous ones simply because they had a negative aspect that I got obsessed with.  I would later go back and replay them, only to find that the negative aspect wasn't as big a deal as I thought at the time, since I made the effort to go back with a differing perspective.
    A poor quality in a reviewer is the tendency to ignore the negatives about something you like.  Another one is to rate things entirely based on aspects you only have a vague grasp or focus on (in my case, due to my eye problems, I'm not the best judge of artwork, and my musical sense is entirely based on how it enhances the atmosphere, rather than raw quality comprehension).  I'm a story reviewer.  I review almost exclusively based on the story, characters, and presentation.  As such, art and sound rarely have a place in my reviews, since I don't think I'm qualified to evaluate them except in the most general of terms.
    I can tell when a VA did an exceptional job, because it stands out enough for me to notice.  I will even mention this in the review, since it takes a lot for a performance to stand out to me.  However, I never pretend to know the ins and outs of specific aspects of VA or musical quality.  I simply don't have the right kind of ear for that kind of thing, not being musically inclined. 
    One thing I've noticed in some reviewers who prefer niche genres (such as myself) is to display a tendency I refer to as PGRD (or Popular Game Reactionary Disorder).  It is a fictional mental disease that many of us who have a distinct preference for a niche genre display that causes us to have a knee-jerk negative reaction to popular works, simply because they are mainstream.  This is a problem that is particularly common in Western otakus of around my age, who became fanboys during a time when watching anime, playing Japanese video games, and reading manga had a rather strong stigma that left us feeling isolated and defensive.  However, it is also present in people who prefer niche genres (I get the double whammy, being both).  That sense of isolation leads to a tendency to over-praise our favorite materials and bash anything that we see as being too popular.
    In reverse, there are those who automatically dismiss anything that isn't mainstream.  Both types are reactionary in nature and have little to do with the quality of the materials in question.  Being a long-time sci-fi addict, I can't understand why anyone would enjoy Avatar (the movie).  However, if I make the mistake of saying that in front of a fanboy of the movie, I will inevitably get a vociferous lecture on how misunderstood the movie is by science fiction fans...
    There are many such examples of such behavior I have experienced over the years, both in myself and in others.  As such, a reviewer has to be willing to examine his own motives for liking or hating something.  Are you being cynical for the sake of being cynical?  Are you over-praising something to the point of overlooking the obvious problems with it?  Are you making excuses while thinking you are making a reasoned argument?  On the other side, are you ignoring the voice of reason to give you an excuse to dislike something? 
    In the end, bias is unavoidable... but it is a reviewer's duty to do their best to cast aside as much of it as possible, because people use our reviews as reference points when they pick what they want to play/read/watch.
  7. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to alpacaman for a blog entry, An attempt at classifying protagonists   
    Protagonists perceived as weak seem to be something a lot of people reading VNs complain about, and as this is an interesting topic imo, I've been spending some time trying to organise my thoughts on it and write them up in a way that's not completely incoherent. In the process I started reflecting on main characters and their role in fiction on a more fundamental level and came up with a very basic way to categorise main characters, by comparing their personalities to how much it advances the plot in their respective stories. I even made a very professional looking diagram to explain my thinking:

    As you can see, the y-axis is supposed to be a measure for the MC's personality, while the x-axis shows how much they actively influence the plot. As each quadrant marks a certain general category of protagonist, I also named those in a way I found fitting (in italic) and added a few examples from VNs I read.
    The measure for personality I chose is a mixture of a protagonist's general determination to face problems head on and to which degree they are actually able to solve the ones the plot poses. I know this is kind of a soft category but this whole thing isn't supposed to be a scientific essay and I couldn't come up with anything better so it will have to do. On the top end of this scale you would have someone like Superman, on the bottom end probably Bella Swan.
    The question about how proactive a protagonist is at least in this metric boils down to if they mainly react to plot points happening or if they themselves make plot points happen. This category also isn't perfect though. For example almost any character arc involving a protagonist in the "weak" category is about them turning stronger. In my opinion this doesn't make a character more proactive though as this is usually driven by plot necessity.
    In this metric you can define four broader types of protagonists. The weak protagonist is someone who usually stumbled into his situation and mainly goes with the flow. The strong protagonist makes his own destiny. The observer is someone who isn't getting too actively involved in the things going on around him, either by their own choice or some external reason. As for the fourth category, I don't know if there actually are protagonists that combine being incapable or weak willed with being proactive. I used Phoenix Wright as an example as you could at least argue that he's only getting by through luck while he always keeps fighting till the end, but that should also move him further up on the personality scale.
    You will probably also disagree with other choices I made about where to put certain characters. So as you can see, this is more of an orientation to think about characters and their roles in fictional media than an objective measure. It also doesn't tell us anything about how well a character is written. There are bland action heroes as well as super well developed wimps. I still thought this self-made graphic might be an interesting thing to share. It might also turn out to be a good place for me to reference whenever I might think about writing something about an MC. At least until someone comes along and completely destroys all of my personal theories I based this on.
    edit: I thought I'd add and explain a few examples for each category (except the useful idiot as I can't confidently name any) from other media so people who don't know any of the guys in the chart or find my explanations too abstract or incomprehensible can get a grasp on what I mean. But first to give an example of what I mean by proactive vs. passive, because just doing a lot of things is not the same as being proactive: Imagine a story where someone dear to the protagonist gets murdered. If this turns into them killing everyone responsible, the MC is extremely proactive. they could just wait for the judicial system to prosecute the bad guys and testify as a witness, but his thirst for revenge drives everything happening from then on. A passive protagonist in such a scenario might be someone who struggles with the loss and is overwhelmed by everyone else not caring and instead fighting over the inheritance. But now for the protagonist types:
    Weak protagonist: Harry Potter - Although everyone in universe talks about how special he is Harry Potter doesn't have that much of a personality, does he? The Sorting Hat talking about how he would be a good fit for any house is true (except for Slytherin as that's basically the Hat telling you you're a bigot) as he shows reasonable degrees of bravery, intelligence and blandness. He doesn't have the magical skills to beat the most powerful wizards either and more often than not gets bailed out by his mother's love or whatever. His personal struggles are always pretty similar to what any kid his age goes through and rarely impact the plot in any major way. In most books he either ends up as a part of the main either through witnessing certain events by chance or because the bad guy plots to get him killed. And most times he gets a "becoming a stronger person and beating the bad guy" arc without him actually groing as a person that much. Harry Potter is also a good example of why a weak protagonist isn't necessarily a bad thing. When the world around the main character or the plot are the actual star of the story, a too strong protagonist could take away from that. The role the protagonist fills is basically to  go through the world with the same sense of wonder the audience would while providing an "everyday person becoming a hero" arc. Which is probably the reason why people who don't like the Harry Potter franchise in general are usually the ones complaining about its protagonist. Frodo would be another example for this kind of protagonist. As mentioned above I'm going to write another blog post about why I think weak protagonists are very common in certain types of VN and why they often seem more annoying than in other fictional media.
    Strong protagonist: James Bond - While his stories always start out with him getting a mission he certainly approaches them in a very unique fashion. I don't know if I have to write a lot more about him. Most iconic action heroes fall into this category.
    Observer: This type of protagonist seems to be more common in Japanese than in western media. Stories with this kind of protagonist usually have them coming in contact with the plot through either coincidence or their line of work and often involve them providing some kind of service while the narrative focus is on the ones the MC comes into contact with and these side characters tend to have the biggest arc. To name an example in western media Mad Max (at least from the second movie on) is pretty good at surviving in the post-apocalypse but he doesn't have some higher goal beyond that. In Fury Road he might be the main character, but the plot is driven by Furiosa's goals and he just happens to help out as it aligns with him trying to flee from the same people. He still helps out a lot, but technically it's just not his story. Which is why he just leaves at the end. As for Japanese Media Gingko in Mushi-Shi might be the prime example. The anime has more than 40 episodes and three specials, still we learn next to nothing about him. Every time he walks into someone else's story, helps them realise their respective arcs without ever getting too personally involved, and leaves again. Violet Evergarden also fits the description for the major part of the anime. She is a killing machine and apparently quickly becomes very good at her new job as well, yet, while there are episodes focusing on her, in most of them she just helps someone else come to terms with their emotions through providing them the service of writing a letter. Violet Evergarden also shows that it's possible to develop protagonists in episodes not focusing on them.
    edit 2: So I managed to come up with an example for  a"useful idiot" (although I don't really like that name, I couldn't think of a better one): many characters in movies by the Coen brothers fit this category. While the protagonists themselves usually are straight man characters, the plots (especially in Fargo and Burn after Reading) often revolve around how bad decisions by incompetent characters lead to catastrophies.
  8. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Why I still haven't given up on VNs.   
    After ten years playing VNs, you would think I would have completely lost faith in them by now, especially considering just how many I've played (744 not counting most of the nukige, replays and incomplete/dropped ones).  Most VNs that aren't nukige are SOL-fests that exist solely to promote nostalgic fantasies about life in high school and getting into bishoujos' pants... not that that is an entirely horrible goal, but it isn't something I want to see five hundred times over.
    The romance is usually puerile and has no relation to reality, the characters have all their hard edges filed away by the needs of the archetype, and drama is used solely to add 'spice' (like one sprinkle of pumpkin spice, not cracked red pepper) to an otherwise endlessly sweet and bland recipe. 
    So how is it that someone who has experienced that much essentially boring and pointless repetition of the same scenarios able to continue to enjoy VNs, even if he can't stand meaningless SOL anymore?
    At one time, it was a sense of duty, a belief that I was doing the community good by digging gems out of the piles of crap that are the SOL genre.  I also had a sense of pride that I made an effort of objectivity that I have literally seen no one else attempt.  I played games no one else bothered with because they didn't have the time or patience, and I did it because I thought someone looking at the games would want to know what they were getting into.
    I paid a price in a growing sense of bitterness, of boredom, and of a sense that I was forgetting the reason why I began to read fiction in the first place.  I paid a price in people continually being trolls and trying to draw me into fights over my opinions on these games.  I had people start reddits and send me pms being sympathetic about the very conversations they'd started (yes that happens). 
    I also had people who respected what I was doing, and I knew there were people in the community who benefited from the fact that I was doing it.  I watched VNs I had pushed get localizations and fantls (usually to my surprise), and I saw others that I had labeled as mediocre get hyped to a ridiculous degree.   I tried to get other people to help with what I was doing, only to find that, without a reading speed similar to mine, it was too much of a burden on their lives and ate up the time to read the VNs they wanted to read. 
    The bad generally outweighed the good immensely while I was doing VN of the Month, and even after, I found that the after-effects of my years of playing games I wasn't interested in personally had left me with scars I was unable to feel while my sense of duty was keeping me going. 
    However, I can say that I still haven't given up on VNs.
    The reason is ridiculously simple and at the same time profound (at least to me).  I love the medium.  For someone who likes an experience that combines the reading, visual input, and music without the need for a lot of input from the one experiencing it, VNs provide a unique storytelling experience.  Books are great for the imagination and can send our souls exploring across landscapes that exist only in our own minds, but VNs provide a more filled-out framework for those who don't necessarily have the imagination to fill in all the gaps on their own, without rotting the imagination to the degree manga and anime do.  I've been able to get people who had trouble reading books into VNs, then led them straight back to books and opened the world of imagination to them.  I've seen people who had begun to feel the otaku community offered nothing more to them come alive again after playing a chuunige or a charage.  I've picked up a random moe-looking VN and found a deep and compelling story that remains within me dozens of times.
    In the end, it is moments, experiences like that that keep me coming back, believing in the possibilities of VNs even now.  It is the desire to find more such experiences that keeps me looking at new releases each month, and it is the belief that those experiences will never entirely vanish that keeps me from condemning the industry as a whole for the way it sabotages itself at times. 
  9. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Eushully's fantasy world   
    I love Eushully's unique fantasy world, Dir Lifyna.  Most of Eushully's games, save for a few oddball ones by the subsidiary Anastasia and Fortune Arterial, are based in this world, which began with the original Ikusa Megami (if this gets translated, somebody please smash the skull of anyone who translates the title, because they'll probably pick the worst permutation of it).  The first thing that anyone going into this setting should know, if only for giggles, is that this was never intended to be an expansive setting containing ten or more games.  Ikusa Megami was intended as a one-off game and was competing with Venus Blood, of all things. 
    However, to the people who played the game, the setting was incredibly attractive, and they sold well enough to justify a sequel, which was even more well-received (if only because the dungeon-crawler elements were toned down to normal jrpg levels). 
    The basic setting of the world is that, far in the past, a technologically-advanced human world created a gate/tunnel linking a world full of magic and demihumans, for reasons that pretty much boil down to boredom and stagnation as a species due to excessive technological development.  Unfortunately, this accidentally caused the two worlds to begin to merge, causing a conflict between their denizens and their gods.
    An important common element to note between the two worlds is that gods existed in both worlds, but the gods of the human world had mostly ceased intervening in mortal affairs openly long before, causing the near death of faith.  Since faith/belief is the source of all deities' power, the humans found themselves at a surprising disadvantage in the war, because their belief in their deities was almost nonexistent.  Worse, magic was quite capable of countering most of the advantages of human tech based on pure physics.
    A faction of humanity chose to pursue the amalgamation of magic and tech, creating wonders and horrors (including artificial demons and gods), but over time (the war apparently lasted for generations), more and more humans switched sides, devoting themselves to gods on the other side, even as humanity's old gods were destroyed, sealed, or enslaved one by one.  By the end of the war, humanity was just another race, perhaps more numerous than the others, in the service of the 'Living Gods', and the 'Old Gods' were relegated to dusty legend and actively considered evil by most, if they weren't in the service of a Living God.  Human technology was, for the most part, wiped from the face of the new, merged world, and the only remnants can be found in ruins filled with monsters and/or automatic guardians.
    The dominant deity of the new world is Marsterria, a minor war god who enslaved and killed more Old Gods than any other.  Most of his worshipers are humans, their prolific breeding and generations of faith having given him immense power.  His followers are often at odds with the protagonist of the Ikusa Megami series and nonhuman races, because of their excessive zealotry and broad determination of what species are considered 'dark races'. 
    Conflict between dark gods and their servants and the gods of light and theirs is a normal part of the world of Dir Lifyna, with neutral regions and nations often becoming the battlegrounds for said followers as a result.  This is a world with a massive number of intelligent species, and that, in the end, is what makes it so much fun to look forward to each game, even if the flop ratio is over 50%, lol. 
    Damn, it was hard to do that without spoiling anything.
    Edit: It should be noted that demons, angels, nagas, and a few other races were actually coexisting with humanity but hidden due to their more direct service to deities in the original human world.  The nagas still maintain faith with old gods for the most part, and as a result, they are marginalized to an immense degree.  Most angels 'fell' or serve one of the Living Gods now (or both), and demons are a plague, with more summoned on occasion since demon summoning was one of the few magics that remained to humanity when the worlds met. 
  10. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Conquest Strategy VNs (Sangoku/Sengoku Hime series in particular)   
    Conquest strategy games, as opposed to RTS, are games where conquest operates on a strategic (large-scale) rather than tactical level and is unconcerned with the activities of individual soldiers (soldiers are numbers, not capable of individual action).  They involve the capture of strategic points in order to hold territory and the keeping of order and management of general resources (wealth and troops, as opposed to specific resources like wood, stone, and food).
    There are certain rules to this type of game when measuring difficulty level... there are obvious ones such as the amount of money you start with (ideally, on normal mode you should start with enough to secure the region immediately surrounding your starting point without resorting to extreme methods like heavy taxes and plundering).  However, there are less obvious ones that are as much matters of real strategy as game rules.
    The biggest obstacle to efficient conquest, other than resources like troop numbers and wealth to pay for actions, is the number of points you have to defend and the limits on how much force you can bring on a single point. 
    The worst possible position to be in, in a continental conquest type, is to be situated inland, with non-allies on all sides and all paths open to invasion or for you to invade through.  In this situation, it is difficult to limit the points at which you have contact with the enemy, and this makes it immensely difficult to hold or expand territory, since you can't concentrate your 'iron fist' to smash one or two points (the ideal situation for normal difficulty at the beginning).  The best possible position is to be in a 'corner' area with only two points to defends and another two points that can be used to expand your territory while limiting the vulnerability created by such territorial expansion. 
    Generally speaking, the Sangoku/Sengoku Hime story paths tend to start with you having to unify your own province, with the first few parts after that concentrated on securing one or two other provinces at a time.  This is further effectively handled by the fact that, in order to attack from a province, you must hold all the castles/domains within that province, and the same goes for your enemies.  Thus, it is possible to preempt an enemy assault by snatching one or two castles in the neighboring provinces with your main forces or judge a province harmless or dangerous by whether multiple factions are active inside.  However, this strategy falls apart if the enemy takes  castle in the territory you are invading from in the same turn, and things can quickly become messy as a result (one situation I found myself in in Sengoku Hime 5 had me facing off against an enemy that could attack any one of five castles from the castle she'd taken, thus forcing me to concentrate a much larger force than I would have preferred to hold her off).
    Public order issues are common to many VNs with gameplay and games of this type.  If you capture a province, it is often necessary to rebuild infrastructure and regain the trust of the people during the political phase, and the necessity of recruiting troops to replace those lost is often counter to his necessity (in the Sangoku games, this can increase the possibility of famines and bandit attacks, for instance).  Worse, it can sometimes take five or more turns to regain order after a conscription, making you vulnerable to all sorts of messy 'disaster' events (referring to the Sangoku/Sengoku Hime series).
    The amount of territory you have in this kind of game directly effects how much of an army you can raise and maintain, as well as how often you can take political and military actions of various sorts.  This means that falling behind the enemy in an 'open' scenario can often lead to you being in the worst possible type of position (for example, in Sengoku Hime 3, I once found myself facing a Miyoshi Clan that had taken over the entirety of Eastern and Northern Japan in the time it had taken me to secure Kyuushu and Shikoku, and I ended up facing forces of story generals in overwhelming numbers as a result... and I lost).  Grabbing a larger territory early on can often allow you to expand faster later on, even if you haven't yet built up that territory sufficiently (maxed public order and public works, as an example). 
    Conquest strategy VNs and games are amongst the most satisfying type of strategy games... and time-consuming ones. 
  11. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Pragmatic VN gaming: Some common sense   
    For better or worse, the VN localization industry in America and other Western nations is expanding rapidly, primarily due to the efforts of aggressive localization companies such as Mangagamer and Sekai Project, but also due to the increased interest on the part of at least some Japanese VN companies in making a few extra bucks through localization. 
    I say 'for better or worse' because the increase in localizations has actually begun to outline what some of the biggest problems with VNs are, for those living in the West.  What I've put down below is basic guidance... not all of which I follow myself, but which is mostly common sense (which a surprising number of new Fuwans seem to be ignorant of).
    Ethical/Legal problems
    1. Piracy- To be blunt, prosecuting consumers of pirated games is a waste of time, and most companies are quite well aware of this.  So, most of the fallout for this kind of thing is going to keep hitting the websites and individuals who promote the distribution end of things.  A few examples will most likely be made of outspoken pirate consumers (the idiots, in other words), but the problem here is almost entirely ethical for most.  Tell me, do you think it is right not to pay for content if you happen to have the money needed to pay for it?
    2. Lolicon content- Seriously guys?  When I saw that Maitetsu was getting a localization, even though it was an all-ages one, alarm bells went off in my head.  Someone is inevitably going to put up an h-patch for the game, and that is going to cause a huge amount of controversy later on that could be a huge blow to the industry, in the short run.  Loli content is one of the two nuclear bombs of Japanese eroge, and it is the one that honestly bothers me the most personally (not so much morally, as in a pragmatic sense).
    3. Rapegames- I'm going to be blunt... considering the degree to which Western culture has come to consider rape a mortal sin, do you really think games focused around rape and extreme sexual situations (ie the entire Maggot Baits game) are safe for the industry to localize, if you consider their potential to backfire?  There is no conceivable way that these games could be considered anything other than obscene by any reasonable critic (not a community one, in other words), and in the long run, games like these have an enormous potential to castrate the localization industry.
    4. School-based games- Sadly, the excuse that 'all the heroines are over eighteen' is only going to take you so far in some countries... to be blunt, a judge is unlikely to listen to that kind of protestation if, for whatever insane reason, you end up dragged into court.
    Common sense issues
    1. I don't think anyone has any business telling us we can't import Japanese games, including VNs.  However, as a matter of common sense, you should probably avoid importing anything with a lot of content linked to the numbers 2 and 3 in the section above.  I don't mean to piss on your bonfire, but if you are going to buy something with that kind of material, at least have the sense to use digital download purchases and/or don't display the packages for that type of eroge where casual visitors can see them.
    2. Figurines and other side-junk- Within reason, there is no reason why a fan of a particular bit of otaku media shouldn't order figurines, statuettes, oppai mousepads, etc to decorate their room or gaming space.  However, keep it within reason... I've seen otaku friends of mine go insane and overpurchase, even going into debt, over buying swag.  If you aren't rich, have the sense to focus on the main material first, then expand at a reasonable pace into the swag.  To an extent, the same can be said of the games themselves, considering the costs of the actual purchases plus import costs.
    3.  Anonymity is your best friend.  Don't pull stupid crap like linking your Facebook profile to your dlsite or getchu account... for that matter, don't link them to your Fuwanovel account, if you are a fan of 'deep' eroge content.  Leaving that kind of data around for casual skimmers to find is just plain stupid.
    4.  If you are a fantranslator, number 3 applies emphatically unless you are about to go 'legit' by handing your translation to a localization company.
    5.  During scandal times (like when the media is making a big deal over an eroge-related issue such as during the infamous Rapelay incident) have the sense to take cover and avoid conversing on rapegames and lolige publicly. 
    6.  Know the difference between being open about your libido and being excessive *remembers Steve*
    A final comment
    Needless to say, almost all the issues above revolve around controversial sexual content.  Part of that is that many people, both inside and outside the VN fanbase, have trouble marking the difference between fiction and reality when it comes to otaku media (an insanity that I can understand but am long past).  As a legal argument, it (as in the argument that figments of an artist's or writer's imagination, as opposed to real women, cannot be considered underaged and cannot be considered victims in any way, form, or fashion) actually has a lot of merit... but that doesn't mean that they'll rule in your favor, in the end, lol.  The West is prudish, to the extreme.  There is no telling when religious interests will slip a noose around our necks, and general moralists are just as bad.  I'm not perfect about taking my own advice.  I'm a VN junkie, and I really don't have any morals when it comes to my search for good VN stories.  I might be disgusted by some content, but that won't prevent me from experiencing the story, lol.  However, a lot of the people around me seem to be utterly unaware of the risks of being an eroge reader... and I felt I had to put this out there, for the 'public' good, even though I'm certain I've already pissed off the anti-censorship and pro-piracy parts of the community, lol. 
  12. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Arcadeotic for a blog entry, Bishoujo Mangekyou TL Update 23: 100% Translated   
    It's finally done.
    I finally managed to 100% translated Bishoujo Mangekyou in its entirety. Actually it happened quite early, 20th, if I recall correctly. It took me 5 monsths and 7 days to translate the whole scrip according to my calculations.
    It's ben awfully rewarding and I appreciate you all sticking with me along this project, my team and I will do our best to make sure the end product is of high quality.
    I'll say this now, this won't be my last transaltion project, but it sure will be my last 'double-translation', so all the following projects will be translated purely from the original script and some double-script translations.
    Anyhoo, now that the translation's done, I am now largely free, so I can return back to what I did before starting this project. The patch release date is still TBA, but it could be done in a few months' time.
    Translation: 100%
    Editing: 20,3%
    QC: 3,1%
    Proofreading: 0%
  13. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Zalor for a blog entry, Deemo: A Genuine *Visual* Novel   
    To provide some context, Deemo is a Taiwanese rhythm game developed for the iOS and Android by Rayark Games. For the most part, I think this game has escaped the notice from most western otaku. Which honestly would make sense, since it isn't marketed towards Otaku like other rhythm games (notably Love Live and Osu). In fact, the game play is arguably not even the primary purpose of the game. Rather, the songs serve the broader purpose of telling a story together with the visuals.
    The word "visual novel", by its name suggests a story that emphasizes the visual aspect to express the story. Taking this loose understanding of the term (and not the conventional definition), Deemo certainly qualifies as an interesting example. In fact, Deemo mostly relies on its visuals and audio to convey its story, hardly using much text at all. This aids the experience excellently as the story is quite simple, and most of the experience is emotional. And nothing conveys emotions as well as music.
    The game begins in a cut scene showing falling sheet music, and a mysterious figure that resembles a walking shadow (Deemo). The next thing we see is Deemo peacefully playing a piano, when he is suddenly interrupted when a girl falls from the sky into his house. Catching her, they then ponder on the best way to return her where she came from (in the sky). It is then that they discover a little sapling growing on the ground, and they realize that when it grows into a large tree, she could climb it up. Thankfully, the tree grows through the power of music, and that is where the game play becomes relevant.
    The tree grows by playing music, but in order to keep it growing you need to keep discovering new music. This is where the other key game mechanic becomes important. For the most part, you unlock new songs when the tree reaches certain heights. But usually you can only get the music by finding it. So you have to search through Deemo's house to find new songs. In doing so, you discover all sort of other clues that provide hints about Deemo's true identity. As you search through Deemo's house, you are not only discovering new music to progress the game, but also learning about the weird world you are in. Deemo's house, is essentially the whole world in this universe. By exploring, you will inevitably ask yourself 3 questions. Who is Deemo, who is the masked lady, and what is this world? 

    Visual Novels typically use choice structures as a means to direct the story. Similarly, but also quite differently, you guide the story and its progression in Deemo through exploration of the limited areas. There is not much to explore, just like how VNs usually only provide a few branching choices, which provides the same sense of confinement that VNs give. You are given some room to explore and deviate, but you are mostly restricted to a few places. 
    The art cover for each song also adds a level of storytelling as each picture captures an image of Deemo's and the girl's relationship developing. The song itself provides the mood to interpret the picture. In other words, the song is essentially the words. Or another way of thinking about it is that each song could be broken down into musical notes and transcribed on paper as sheet music. Well that sheet music, is the script to this story. The game focuses all the comprehensive aspects of the story to imagery and exploration (with minimal use of text), allowing for character development and all things emotional to be expressed by the music as opposed to text. And while narrative can always communicate plot points more efficiently than music, music trumps narrative in terms of emotional expression. And ultimately Deemo's story is more focused on mood, than it is on plot.   
    The game wants the player to use their imagination to string the plot together by using images and the music as the core tools to do so. In much the same way that novelists want the reader to use their imagination when visualizing descriptions. In this way, I think this music game, captures the true heart of music; emotional expression.
    The title of this article suggests that I think that Deemo is in some way a visual novel, and using the term loosely, that is true. As I briefly mentioned before, the term “visual novel” implies a story that is primarily expressed through visuals (this is of course ignoring the historical context to how the term was coined in the first place). And I have seldom seen any story that has relied on the visual aspect as much as Deemo. The game almost solely relies on images to express what is going on, and music to infuse emotional meaning to those images. And it is truly impressive how effective a story can be told in this limited way. To the extent where by the end of this journey, I was in tears. And when I return back to replay certain songs, or to view certain cut scenes, the feelings I initially felt are still there.
  14. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to babiker for a blog entry, A Thousand and Three nights: A New Year   
    How to Archery
    2-Are donuts really Haram?
    An interesting tweet.
    3-Be careful with fireworks
    4-What happens when a cat jumps into the refrigerator?
    5-Happy new years (?)
    Or at least, happier than this poor guy
    Hope ya'll had a fun time last year. And I hope I do better this new year ... o/
  15. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to babiker for a blog entry, A Thousand and One Nights: The Awakening   
    A few days after Christmas and the site has been infested with either selfies and star wars spoilers, or posts complaining about selfies and star wars spoilers, so it's refreshing to see something new for a change.
    1-Crazy Post of the day
    This one is a bit NSFW, so I'll just post the link. I can't really give you a description as I'm not sure what to say, but if you're bored out of your mind, this might slightly amuse you http://imgur.com/gallery/bUpNgCe
    Oddly enough, this doesn't concern cats. I know, a post on the internet about animals that doesn't have cats?! I couldn't believe my eyes either! But hey, it's heartwarming sometimes to see animals do their unexpected things, so here ya go
    3-What Happens When You Lose to a Mud Monster in Monster Girl Quest
    My title is probably more appropriate than the original
    4-Meme of za day
    Took quite a while finding this one. We all know memes on the internet are serious business. I chose this one because well... It's kinda funny no?
    5-What iz Racism?
    A bit more serious, and it's also a repost, but the message here is as true as it is important. 
    And that's that for today. Not much words and critique, but that's mainly because it's the end of the day and I can't really give each picture it's fair share of criticism and consideration. You can look forward to more of that in the future. Hope you had fun for now, any suggestions/complaints/praises are appreciated
  16. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Neko-rabu #1   
    None of my incarnations has ever been very good at pretending to be nice. 
    Yes, that is an understatement, from a purely objective perspective.  However, when you are a sentient universe-eating monster that used to be a fat, bald otaku from a frontier planet in a rather pathetic galaxy in an even more pathetic universe, it is kind of hard to understand how to be ‘nice’. 
    Understand, I was just out to have a few drinks, perhaps eat some of the more nasty criminals that infested the city of Neo Lovenia, and maybe find a few people worth loving… I had no intention of getting involved in something so utterly boring as a slum-dwellers’ riot when I left the sewer-level apartment I’d chosen more out of memories of a certain child’s cartoon back ‘home’ than any practical reasons.  Unfortunately, as with most matters involving mortals, I wasn’t exactly given a choice whether to get involved or not.
    Especially when a really pretty girl hidden under the rags of a filthy slum-dwelling piece of mortal trash was tossed off a bridge, straight into my arms…
    That, in and of itself, would not have been much of a problem.  On any other day, I would have simply eaten the girl, made her into one of my trillions of immortal servants, then gone on about the business of getting myself debauched in the biggest city on one of the most degenerate planets in all of that particular universe.
    Unfortunately, the men in the silly blue robes with the magic staffs had the bad taste to try to blast me with lightning bolts, probably thinking I was one of the girl’s allies.  Since this verged on that most terrible of all sins, incivility, I decided to retaliate in kind.
    It wasn’t my fault that the fragile matter of that particular space-time continuum wasn’t up to the task of withstanding the equivalent of a sigh of exasperation from me.
    The bridge, the rioting slum-dwellers in their filthy rags, and the entire unit of what passed for police on that particular sorry excuse for a civilized world, were suddenly wiped from existence, along with a large portion of the surrounding streets and buildings… and a perfect half-sphere of the water running through the reservoir below. 
    Needless to say, I was somewhat dismayed.  While I tended to devour all sorts of nasty things in my true form, I generally refrained from drinking the water on planets like that one… one could never tell just what was in it, after all.  The oily taste of rotten fish and the bits of effluvia that tended to infest the waters on backward worlds like this one filled my mouth, reminding me of why I generally refrained from such activities when in mortal form.
    The girl in my arms was quite unconscious, and I was briefly tempted to just toss her in the river and be done with it… but she was also unreasonably pretty underneath all that grime.  So pretty, in fact, that she reminded me of my own mortal days, when I spent most of every day staring at a computer screen at animated beauty because the world around me was so ugly.  As such, I believe that it is only reasonable that I should be forgiven for deciding to refrain from eating her before I got to know her.
    Once an erogamer, always an erogamer, after all. 
    Having returned to my home, such as it was, I found myself at a loss.  Being a sensible creature, I’d long-since arranged for my own pocket dimension full of all the creature comforts to follow me wherever I went, and there was no chance of trouble from the outside entering without my permission.  Unfortunately, I had seemingly lost my wits, deciding to bring a mere mortal child, however pretty, to my sanctum, full of walls of eroge, anime blu-rays, and video games from every era of my pox-infested homeworld’s technological age.
    As such, I was quite well-aware that my home wasn’t exactly suitable for the inhabitance of beings of the female persuasion.  The nightmare of many otakus yet to obtain the power of true enlightenment, of taking a girlfriend home only for her to find out about his hidden passions and reject him furiously, briefly raised its head. 
    I shook my head, smiling somewhat wryly at my rather prosaic worry.  After all, if all else failed I could always eat the girl anyway.  Pretty as she was, she would be even prettier with glowing orange eyes and a bear-trap smile full of endless hunger.  However, now that I had refrained from eating her once, I found it difficult to consider doing so anyway.   I am nothing if not stubborn, as a particularly bone-headed (literally) Neanderthal discovered when we got into a headbutting contest during one of my many pleasure trips to my homeworld’s distant past.
    So it was that I found myself transforming the girl’s rags into a simple kimono (again, once a weaboo, always a weaboo), cleaning her body by the simple expedient of turning all non-living matter on the surface of her skin into quick-evaporating anti-bacterial soap. 
    Why did I have to inherit the original’s otaku-obsessions?  I wondered, feeling a bit exasperated.  All of the avatars made by the original have their own quirks and individual leanings, though the essential nature of the being we represent is unchangeable.  However, I am one of the few unfortunates to have inherited the original’s ‘hobby’ and tastes. 
    The one thing all of us inherit is ‘hunger’.  It takes different forms, depending on the individual, but all of us eat people.  If it is the simple fondness one might have for their favorite meal, the result tends to be what most mortal races would call a ‘monster’.  The individual’s basic personality survives being eaten… but their body and their desires are changed drastically.  In the billions of years since my maker had eaten this particular universe, I’d come to understand just how differently our emotions toward those we eat effect various species.
    If we happened to actually know and like the person in question, the result that came out the other side was generally superficially unchanged… after all, the more we know and like someone, the less likely we are to want to turn them into a duplicate of ourselves. 
    But I digress.  I was speaking of our ‘hunger’.  In some cases it manifests as lust, in others it manifests as greed, in some it manifests as sadism, and yet in others it can manifest as a desire to kill.  It isn’t always negative… if it was, very few universes would have managed to survive our presence. 
    In my case, it is pride, the desire for recognition given free reign.  Need I state how paradoxical my otaku hobbies and my ‘hunger’ are?  I’ve not quite gone so far down that path as the original went… so I’m not about to proudly state that I love eroge to the world.  Unfortunately, that meant that I was generally forced to hide my hobbies on whatever world I chose to use as a foothold at a given time.
    As such, I vanished the various otaku paraphernalia in the room, transforming the walls into something resembling the inside of a castle lord’s room from the Middle Ages (imagined by me), with a four-poster canopied bed, deep purple silk sheets, covering the walls with bookshelves filled old-fashioned hand-written, hand-bound books in the local language (translated in an instant).  As a bow to my ever-present weabooism, I left the katana and wakizashi hanging sheathed on nails driven into the wall and the set of samurai armor I’d created in one of my all-too-common fits of obsessive madness on its stand in the corner of the room closest to the heavy varnished-wood door. 
    I took another look at the girl and sighed deeply.  Her fuzzy black cat ears and silky black tail attracted my otaku-obsessions like a fly to honey, and the fact that she was a Japanese-style bishoujo only made it worse (considering the whole reason this universe had been devoured was because the original found out there were naturally-occurring cat-people there). 
    The urge to eat her was briefly overwhelming, but it soon receded, tamed by certain… other feelings.  Unlike the original, I have some restraint, after all. 
    I picked her up, threw her over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and carried her over to the bed, where I dropped her, covering her with a down-filled quilt I materialized out of thin air.  Her white, oh-so-white skin which contrasted so wonderfully with her midnight-black hair once again invited me to dine upon my guest, but I had little difficulty suppressing the urge this time.
    That done, I picked a random book off of the shelves and began reading, Hmm… Waylander by Gemmel… my original’s tastes are a bit predictable.  I reflected as I waited for her to wake.
    The story was about a kingslayer assassin, and it was written by one of the original’s childhood favorite authors.  While the story started as a straightforward revenge story, describing the rapid collapse of the man who became Waylander into the worst pits of human nature, it was still an enjoyable read… very much like cheap fantasy junk food.
    A few hours later, I sensed her stirring in the bed, her ears twitching and her breathing becoming shallower.  An instant later, she shot upright, screaming. 
    Irritated, I created a sound barrier around her head and waited for her to stop.  The cat-like ears of the native form I was using were highly sensitive, and her screaming could have awakened the dead.
    I observed her closely, seeing that her wide, unfocused eyes were a large, brilliant emerald in color and her teeth had the prominent canines that distinguished her visually from humankind, together with her ears and tail. 
    Eventually, her eyes focused, and her screaming stopped, and I released the sound barrier, waiting for her to speak. 
    “…w…wh…who are you?”  She asked in obvious confusion, her voice hoarse, most likely from the screaming.
    “My name is Clephas.” I replied, giving her what I thought was a gentle, reassuring smile.
  17. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Tackling More Complex Graphics [VN Image Editing]   
    Here in the United States, we’ll be spending Thursday the way The Lord God intended: eating our weight in meat, potatoes, and gravy, then farting ourselves to sleep on our uncles’ living room couches. Those of you from other countries have good reason to be jealous; there’s no slumber quite as deep or blissful as the post-Thanksgiving coma. But guess what, my forlorn foreign friends? This year, you’re in luck. That’s right — I’ve decided to write another image editing post. With any luck, this’ll put you to sleep faster than the second season of The Walking Dead.
    I know. Those are lofty claims, but I’m ready to deliver a Thanksgiving miracle. You’re welcome.
    Insomniacs of the World, Good Night.
    So at the tail end of image editing on a yet-to-be-released otome translation, I got a care package from the TL team with an additional set of graphics that needed retouching. Most of it was straightforward stuff — modal UI elements, chapter title screens, etc. — but one folder in particular seemed to emanate waves of pure evil. You know that feeling you get when your phone rings at 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning? And you can see it’s your boss calling? And every hung-over bone in your body screams at you not to answer, but you know you have to? Yeah, kind of like that.
    So I opened it.
    Inside were 13 different full-screen maps, all very similar to the one above, showing the in-game route from one castle to another. I could already see it was going to be a relatively painful retouching job — lots of smallish text set against an intricately illustrated and heavily weathered map. Complicating matters was the fact that the same map was then repeated 12 more times with slight variations, each image representing the path traveled by the characters over the course of a particular chapter.
    Image editing is all about measuring twice and cutting once. The more you mess with an image, the more room there is for errors and inconsistencies to creep in — and the more time you waste. So in this case, my first job was to see how much each map actually differed from the next. With any luck, I could create a base map template that contained 90% of the heavy retouching — those elements that were common to all maps — then paste the individual elements for all the other maps on top of that. In Photoshop, the easiest way to do this is layering one image over another, then applying the Difference blending mode. (For you programmers out there, you can think of this as running a diff command on two text files.) The result looks something like this:
    The black pixels represent areas where the two images are identical; the non-black pixels show where they differ. In this case, after doing this with all the images, I could see there were two main points of difference between the maps. First, the inset box on the lower right, which shows the characters’ origin, destination, and the direction of travel, along with thumbnail pictures of each location. Second, the path indicator along the road, with a highlighted road marker showing the characters’ final destination. With this info in hand, I could now start tackling the retouching itself, while setting the Photoshop file up for maximum efficiency and flexibility.
    The first step in building a map template was to remove the Japanese text from the image:
    Tedious stuff, but fairly standard. You might notice that I only removed the text from one of the orange road marker “capsules.” There were a couple reasons for that. For one, there weren’t a lot of similar patches of texture to pull from for cloning, so retouching them all would be a pain in the ass and produce uneven results. Moreover, it would be inefficient, since other than the weathering, they all look more or less identical. So in this case, I drew a selection path around the one retouched capsule, turned it into a smart object, then duped it about 20 times for all the other markers along the road:
    Better, but not quite there yet. It’s painfully obvious that all the capsules are identical, and they stick out like sore thumbs; they’re crisp and clean while the rest of the map looks beat up and worn. So my next step was to blend them into the map and add an element of irregularity by duplicating the original map image, floating it up to the top, then applying the Lighter Color blending mode. This mode compares the two images pixel by pixel, and whichever pixel is lighter gets displayed in the final image. Since the capsules were comparatively dark, this effectively lets me pick up the weathered areas of the map where the lighter parchment shows through and apply it only to the capsules.
    Much better. They look baked into the map now. As a final touch, I also added the slightest bit of canvas texture as an FX layer set to Color Burn to bring back some level of darker noise to the capsules. Not too much, though; since we have to be able to read 4-9 small English letters as opposed to a couple large kanji characters, we need to allow for some increased contrast.
    Done and done. I was finally in a position where I could start adding the translated text to the map. And that’s where I decided to break one of my cardinal rules: never set English type in vertical stacks. Every rule has its exception, though, and this was one right here. The lettering in older, hand-drawn maps was often a loosey-goosey affair, with cartographers squeezing in type wherever they could, however they could. Horizontal, vertical, curved — whatever it took to cram words into the space available. English vertical type would have been right at home on a document like this. Since most of the place names on this map were short, and the space available to me was largely vertical blocks, I decided to go for it. I picked a Western font I thought captured the feel of the original map lettering, then re-set all the type.
    With the base map template finished, I could quickly set about outputting those other 12 map variants. This basically involved creating a dozen layer group overlays for the inset box in the lower right, each one holding updated text and location images copy/pasted from the original maps, along with UI indicators as needed — the blue swirl indicating current location, and the hand-drawn arrow indicating direction of travel. Then I created another set of overlays for the red path line drawn over the map itself. Since the capsules were all smart objects, I could easily highlight individual ones as needed by selectively applying a light orange Color Overlay FX with a Soft Light blending mode.
    Think that bright red line and arrow on the road looks shockingly bad? Me too, especially considering how well art directed the rest of the VN is. It’s almost like the devs had an intern add it in Windows Paint at the last second or something. Oy vey.
    Anyway, everything else came together quickly after that. In short order, all the maps were exported and the new files were back in the hands of the team.
    Asleep yet?
    All told, the project took about 90 minutes for 13 images, with the first half an hour or so spent reviewing the maps and coming up with a plan of attack. Had I not “wasted” that time up front, I could have easily spent 2-3X longer trying to get things done in less efficient ways — if not more.
    So what have we learned today?
    When it comes to image editing, always measure twice and cut once. Plan ahead, especially on more complex projects. Always be willing to break, or at least bend, your own rules if a situation demands it. I will be made up of approximately 93% pumpkin pie by this time tomorrow. #3 is a very conservative estimate.
  18. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Kyuuketsu Hime no Libra   
    Mmm... first of all, this is by Onamatope, a company previously known only for its harem-ge from the Mecha-con series.  The Mecha-con series fell somewhere into that thin area between a nukige and a moege, and it was actually pretty decent for something in that area of the VN universe.  So, keeping that experience in mind, I went into this VN with a more open mind than some people probably would have.  Fortunately, this VN wasn't a disappointment, precisely because I wasn't looking for it to be something out of this world.
    Ok, first... this is a chuunige, in the sense that it follows a format I think most people will be familiar with... this young guy is transformed and forced into a world where he has to fight to survive, with many pretty girls around him... sound familiar?  It should.  That right there is the basis for about ninety-percent of the entire 'gakuen battle' type chuunige sub-genre.  In a few ways, this VN definitely borrows from Draculius, which I still think is the best non-superviolent vampire VN.  There are a lot of differences between the two... but they share the commonality of allowing for a coexistence of slice-of-life and comedy with a more serious background story. 
    I'll say it straight out though... there should have been an Iris path.  I don't say this because I'm a lolicon (though the protagonist and his ancestors all were, apparently) - as I'm not - but because Iris was, at first, second and third glance, the most interesting female character in the VN.  All the heroines had their moments... in fact, I was really, really surprised at the degree to which they managed to balance all the paths and gave the heroines an equal amount of story.  Due to the fact that the first half of their paths are the same, you might think Aoi and Lycoris got a bit screwed over, but their events after the split are distinct enough - and long enough - that I can't really say either got screwed over by the scenario designer's choices.  In that sense, this VN is something of a triumph of the art of scenario design, which was one of the areas in which Onamatope generally shined in its near-nukige Mecha-con series as well (one of the reasons my impressions of those games were positive). 
    In terms of raw writing... the battle writing is actually some of the better non-Light and non-Propeller I've seen.  That isn't to say it is first class, because it isn't.  The protagonist is way too much of a hetare when it comes to dealing with his vampirism, and the fact that they chose to make all the heroines, sub-heroines, and the protagonist a bit 'baka' was a bit of an odd choice that had moments where it fell flat.  The regular narrative writing is better than you generally see in a nakige (which generally get favored with the best moege-variant writers), and I can honestly say that the pacing didn't throw me off very often, though there were some shaky moments midway and early on.
    In terms of visuals... this VN definitely needed more combat CGs.  I knew they would cut corners on this, as Onamatope is not a company that can afford the kind of budgets for visuals that monsters like Will and Light can.  There was a bit too much reuse of the same tachie poses to simulate combat, and the best I can say is that they gave the protagonist a face and a tachie for once, which was a huge plus.
    ... unfortunately they didn't give him a voice.  Perhaps one of the biggest no-nos with a modern chuunige is to fail to give the protagonist a voice.  The simple reason for this?  Because the protagonist in a chuunige is always intended to be an actual person, rather than a simple self-insert.  As such, it is rather ridiculous to give into that particular convention when even using a random staff member would probably satisfy most people. 
    Generally speaking, the music in this game is... generic-sounding in the sense that chuunige music can ever be generic-sounding.  That means that the tunes are ones I suspect get sold to every company intending to make this type of VN, with a few twists and changes in the rhythm to make them sound different to the ears of someone who doesn't listen.   On the positive side, there is no point in this VN where I felt like the music was misused, which is a far bigger flaw that simply reusing music tracks from other games.
    Overall, what can those of you looking forward to the localization look forward to?  I'd say that if you want some slice-of-life with vampires merged with a low-level chuunige story, this will definitely be something to look forward to.  On the other hand, fans of more serious chuunige will not be satisfied by this, as the game is just to light in the slice-of-life scenes and the protagonist is a bit too much of a near-hetare when it comes to the vampire issues. 
  19. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Ikusa Megami series... my thoughts   
    The Ikusa Megami series is easily one of the best rpg series out there, as far as plot goes, including the more than two hundred jrpgs I played during my younger years.  I'm saying this right off the bat, simply because it needs to be said.  Ikusa Megami Zero is an example of the best of what can be done when a visual novel is fused with a traditional turn-based jrpg, and Verita is a nice sequel to it.  I frankly consider Ikusa Megami Zero to be right up there with Star Ocean 2, Final Fantasy VI, Xenogears, and Suikoden 2 as a member of that rarefied group in terms of plot, and that is coming from someone jaded by more than twenty years playing such games.
    Sadly, it is unlikely most people over here will even give it a chance if it does come over here... and the reason is fairly simple... sex.  Now, there are always people who defend or attack sexual content based on morality or the lack of it... but to be honest, I'm not interested in rehashing that idiotic argument once again here.  One of the ironic factors of this series is that sex is so vital to the story (whereas it is a hindrance in any number of VNs I can name).  The Tantric magic many of the non-human characters use to sustain their existence is vital to the story, and it is also vital to the understanding of the setting.  It can't be avoided and it can't be cut out without effectively neutering one of the ongoing conflicts of the overarching story of the series in general.  So, for those who dream of Sekai Project cutting out the sexual content and localizing this game... please don't do that to us, since it would be criminal... and this is from someone who generally skips H-scenes while doing something else.
    Perhaps the most powerful element of the series - other than Serika's legendary life - is the setting.  From what I've read, it seems that Eushully originally intended the setting to only cover a single game... the first Ikusa Megami.  However, while Ikusa Megami itself was considered only average as a game, the world-building the setting was widely praised by those who played  it, and as a result, Ikusa Megami 2 got released, becoming even more popular.  However, it was the release of Zero that basically converted the Japanese-playing Western community to the cause of seeing these games come over here.  Going back into the distant (700 years or more distant) past of the world, it covers the formative years of Serika's lonely journey, as his life was destroyed, changed beyond all recognition to eventually result in the creation of the person he became.  All along the way, through various characters and events, the gaps in the setting were further filled in, bringing the series even more to life. 
    The setting of the series is a world that was basically created when a high-technological world (pretty much Earth) discovered a fantasy world with elves, dwarves, and other non-human races... and decided to merge the two worlds together (the details are pretty much deliberately wiped out by the gods long before the story's beginning, so don't expect everything to be told).  This was quite naturally disastrous for both sides... but especially for the high technological civilization.  That high technological civilization (humans) found itself at war with magic-wielding races with a strong faith in their gods, which granted those gods the power they needed to defeat the technological advantage the humans had... while also defeating the humans' gods, who were already weakened by the poor faith of the humans who worshiped them and further weakened when the gods of the invaded world began to convert the humans to their faiths.  This eventually resulted in the death, sealing, or conversion of most of the gods of humanity, renamed 'the old gods' in the new world.  Humanity had its memory of the past civilization reduced to a few ruins and distant legends, and most of humanity settled into a worship of the gods of the new, merged world.  This in itself would have made for a pretty rich setting... but they take it to insane degrees of complexity when you throw demons, magic-technology, fights between darkness and light (followers and gods), neutral gods, and the rapid growth of humanity's sphere of influence into account. 
    The constantly shifting moral perspectives, as well as the innumerable factions and nations that make up this setting, make for some really fascinating lore.  That in and of itself would make it worth playing these games, but the inclusion of side-stories (such as Meishoku no Reiki and Madou Koukaku) and direct links to the main series (the Genrin no Kishougun games) adds even more depth to the physical world and its history, as you come to know various historical figures and other parts of the world.
    Now that I've waxed poetic (sort of) on the virtues of the story and setting... I should probably state that the series itself is pretty standard, gameplay wise.  It uses your basic turn-based combat, for the most part, and this is generally a benefit, as it makes actually learning the basics of battle rather simple, outside of a few details.  Since battles generally start and end quickly (outside of boss battles) if you know what you are doing, Zero, Verita, and Tenbin feel like less of a grind than they really should, based on the game type.  The biggest difference between Zero and the other two games is that Zero is primarily telling a story, whereas the other two also have Star Ocean style EX dungeons that can serve as a huge challenge in comparison to the rest of the game, even if you have your characters maxed. 
    Generally, the benefits of the series can be summed up like this: gameplay accessibility, good plot, and a deep setting.  For those looking for a true hybrid of the best of jrpgs and visual novels, this series is an excellent choice.
  20. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to astro for a blog entry, taypls 6   
    *** astro has shared contact details with Joe. ***
    Joe: Hi astro, I'm wondering can u pls translate Aiyoku no Eustia?
    Me: sorry I really don't have time to take on more projects right now
    Joe: But it's a rly good game
    Me: I'm sure it is. look, I hope that you're not asking me to do it for free at the very least - I don't even know who the heck you are
    Joe: Well how long will it take u to do it? I can pay u $2000 at most depending on how long it takes
    Me: ...Do you have any idea how long the game is?
    Joe: No idk japanese so I've never played it before

    Well, this isn't really Tay's fault, but my rule of thumb is to always blame Tay. taypls
  21. Like
    FinalChaos reacted to Rose for a blog entry, Majikoi complete patch is live!   
    Hello everyone, quick post and no time for introductions this time, for if you didn't received the news, then there you have it: After four years in development, the Majikoi translation project is finally complete! So if you plan to read this game or was waiting for the complete patch to finish it, then go thank the team in the discussion thread, you can find their profile links in the translation thread if you feel like PMing then as well. Thanks a lot everyone on the team, you guys are amazing and our deepest gratitude!
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